TECO Peoples Gas is working with regulators to address compliance issues
TAMPA, December 14, 2015
TECO Peoples Gas is working closely with the Florida Public Service Commission to address record-keeping issues that have affected inspection compliance.
In 2013, the Public Service Commission (PSC) audit staff cited Peoples Gas for not fully complying with PSC rules, mostly focused on record keeping for maintenance and inspections in two divisions. Peoples Gas took immediate and significant corrective action, including organizational, operational, and system changes over the course of multiple years.
Based on information from PSC staff and before the corrective actions were complete, this summer the company investigated and discovered falsified leak-inspection reports in the Ocala area from 2014. The company took appropriate disciplinary action for the employee misconduct. The company also re-inspected all the pipes due for inspection in 2014 in the Ocala area and repaired deficiencies as appropriate.
"We are constantly working to improve and serve our customers as safely and cost-effectively as possible, but we are not perfect," said Gordon Gillette, president of Peoples Gas. "Safety is our No. 1 priority. We are disappointed in these results because they do not reflect the true commitment to safety and integrity that Peoples Gas maintains every day."
On Dec. 7, the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) filed for a "show cause" hearing, which asks the PSC to review the issues and to consider taking action against Peoples Gas, such as imposing a fine.
"We are modernizing our compliance program with computerized record keeping. The previous manual inspection process created an opportunity for this to arise," Gillette said. "Everyone – Peoples Gas, the PSC and the OPC – have the same goal. We are all interested in a safe natural gas-distribution system that complies with state regulations."
In addition to company staff working with regulators, the company's internal auditors are working with an external consultant to finalize a compliance investigation across Peoples Gas' entire Florida system.
Peoples Gas System, Florida's largest natural gas distribution utility, is part of the TECO Energy family of companies. Peoples Gas serves more than 360,000 customers across Florida. TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE) is an energy-related holding company with regulated electric and gas utilities in Florida and New Mexico: Tampa Electric, Peoples Gas System and New Mexico Gas Co.