TECO Peoples Gas has completed regulatory process on compliance issue
TAMPA, May 5, 2016
TECO Peoples Gas has completed the regulatory process related to a compliance issue that first surfaced several years ago.
Peoples Gas has agreed to pay a $1 million fine and refund another $2 million to customers to settle record-keeping and other issues that affected inspection compliance. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously approved the settlement today.
In 2013, the PSC audit staff issued a report critical of Peoples Gas for not fully complying with PSC rules, primarily focused on record keeping for maintenance and inspections in two divisions. Last year, a subsequent audit resulted in similar findings as well as concerns regarding missed safety inspections.
Peoples Gas took immediate and significant corrective action, including disciplinary response, as well as robust organizational and operational changes over the course of multiple years. The company hired an external consultant, who conducted an investigation and found no additional wrongdoing.
“We have taken this issue very seriously, and we've made significant improvements as a result,” said Gordon Gillette, president of Peoples Gas. “Safety is our No. 1 priority, and this settlement allows us to continue to focus on improving our system and processes in order to serve our customers in the safest manner.”
On Dec. 7, the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) asked the PSC to review the issues and to consider taking action against Peoples Gas, such as imposing a fine. This settlement – among Peoples Gas, the PSC staff and the OPC – resolves the case.
The $1 million fine will go into the state of Florida's General Revenue fund and will be paid by shareholders. The $2 million refund to customers will occur over 12 months in 2017 and will be about 15 cents per month for the average residential gas customer.
Peoples Gas System, Florida's largest natural gas distribution utility, is part of the TECO Energy family of companies. Peoples Gas serves nearly 365,000 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.