Gas pipeline replacement bill signed by Governor Mike Parson
Governor Mike Parson has signed into law HB 2120, a bill that will allow gas companies to replace pipelines before they become dangerous. The bill was sponsored by Representative Bill Kidd and handled in the Senate by Senator Wayne Wallingford.
Current law allows gas companies to replace worn out pipes and assess customers an Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) for the costs, with such costs reviewed and adjustments considered by the Public Service Commission in the next rate case of the gas utility.
A recent court challenge resulted in a decision that gas companies could only use this process to replace pipe and infrastructure that was completely worn out. That was not the intent of the original language and this bill corrects the problem by allowing such gas pipeline replacement before the pipe becomes a danger.
Associated Industries of Missouri supported this provision of the bill. The surcharge was intended to allow gas companies to replace gas pipeline infrastructure in a timely manner before the pipes develop leaks that can lead to fire and explosions.
Any gas corporation whose ISRS is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to include illegal and inappropriate charges must refund every current customer of the gas corporation who paid such charges, before the gas corporation can file for a new ISRS. Any ISRS petition thereafter shall be accompanied with a verified statement that the gas corporation is using a competitive bidding process for installing no less than 25% of ISRS-eligible gas utility plant projects. Under this bill, the lowest and best bid in the competitive bidding process shall receive the contract to perform the project. The Public Service Commission shall prepare an annual report on the competitive bidding process for the General Assembly beginning December 31, 2023. The provisions relating to the ISRS for gas corporations shall expire on August 28, 2029.
This bill also states that within one year, every community water system in the state that uses an Internet-connected control system must create a plan that establishes policies and procedures for identifying and mitigating cyber risk. They must also create a valve inspection and a hydrant inspection program as specified in the bill and must submit a report upon the request of the Department of Natural Resources that certifies compliance with regulations regarding water quality sampling, testing, reporting, hydrant and valve inspections, and cyber security plans. These requirements do not apply to cities with a population of more than 30,000 inhabitants, Jackson County or St. Louis County.
The bill permits, subject to appropriations, each school district to test a sample of a source of potable water in a public school building in that district serving students under first grade and constructed before 1996 for lead contamination as specified in the bill. The water samples may be submitted to a Department of Health and Senior Services-approved laboratory and the results of such testing may be submitted to the department. If any of the samples tested exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard, the school district shall notify the parents or guardians of enrolled students. If the samples tested are less than or equal to the standard, the district may notify parents individually or on the school's website.
The bill also extends program authorization for small wireless facilities from 2021 to 2025 and for the broadband Internet program in underserved areas from 2018 to 2027.
The bill will be effective August 28, 2020.