A former Colorado Natural Gas employee found state and federal code violations in the way his home was converted from propane to natural gas, and he says he’s worried that thousands of other homes around Conifer and Evergreen have similar mistakes.
RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostEric Allen is worried there may be issues with some propane lines in the Evergreen and Conifer area. Photographed on Sept. 11, 2019 in Denver .
Eric Allen, of Conifer, took those concerns about his own home to the Public Utilities Commission, and in late June, the regulatory agency levied a $1.125 million fine that CNG would have to pay if the mistakes weren’t fixed. The PUC field inspector found “numerous former propane lines” being used to carry natural gas, which served as evidence that the home hadn’t been properly leak-surveyed in recent years as required by law.
“Evaluation of the information gathered during the course of this inspection has led to the uncertainty of the entirety of CNG’s Colorado assets,” according to the field inspector’s report. “Further inspection of these assets is warranted.”
CNG sent a statement to The Denver Post saying its been working to correct the specific issue on Allen’s property and additional “legacy issues” for more than a year.
“We proactively developed a remediation plan and implemented accelerated leak surveys to ensure there was no imminent threat to our customers,” spokesperson Lizzy Reinholt said. “No leaks have been identified on the system related to these legacy issues and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission gas safety staff has said there is no imminent threat.
“Our independent inspectors identified 77 service lines that required replacement, even though they are rated to carry natural gas. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has a deep seated commitment to safety, as do we.”
State Sen.Tammy Story, D-Confier, disagreed. She said CNG hasn’t given this issue “near the attention” it deserves, and the process has not been “efficient, effective or expeditious.” Specifically, she was upset CNG hasn’t notified its customers that their gas lines could be incorrect.
“I think this is definitely a case where we have corporate financial interests that are taking precedence over the public safety of their customers,” Story said. “This just cannot stand.”
Here’s what Allen says happened.
About 20 years ago, the price of natural gas dropped and offers from natural gas companies like CNG started coming into to propane tank owners across the country. A lot of homeowners decided to make the switch. When they converted, federal and state law required those companies to run new lines to the homes. Allen and Story said there are a couple of reasons why. Propane lines are meant to carry 3 to 5 pounds of pressure while natural gas lines carry anywhere from 30 to 80 pounds of pressure. Natural gas lines have to include a copper wire called a tracer that allows the pipes to be located underground, and natural gas lines cannot legally run underneath a building.
“It’s problematic because the fittings are not going to be solid between the two different types of …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Politics