Indiana utility faces $1.1M fine over safety violations

A northern Indiana utility is facing a $1.1 million fine — the largest in state history — after state regulators cited it for natural gas pipeline safety violations and specified that the company cannot pass that cost onto its ratepayers.

Posted: Aug 8, 2020 6:14 PM

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana utility is facing a $1.1 million fine — the largest in state history — after state regulators cited it for natural gas pipeline safety violations and specified that the company cannot pass that cost onto its ratepayers.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission cited the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. for instances of failing to locate or mark underground pipelines within two days of a request being made, as is required by pipeline safety procedures in advance of any excavation work.

The commission, which released its decision Wednesday, said the violations dating to 2018 posed a public safety threat.

“Properly responding to and locating pipelines is critical to avoiding property damage and personal injury potentially resulting from natural gas explosions,” the commission said in a news release.

The commission said in its order that the $1.1 million fine against Merrillville, Indiana-based NIPSCO is the largest in state history.

The utility is not allowed to pass that cost onto consumers as a rate hike, the commissioners wrote, so the fine will not result in higher electric or gas bills.

The commission's latest judgment against the utility stems from a 2017 ruling that fined NIPSCO $900,000 in civil penalties for violations dating back to 2015. The utility had agreed to pay further fines if later caught for similar violations, the commission said. Regulators said NIPSCO was fined $765,000 in February 2019 for violations that occurred in 2017.

“Both the Commission’s Pipeline Safety Division and the utility agreed on the dollar amount for each violation NIPSCO commits in 2017, 2018, and 2019 with respect to locating its underground gas pipelines and facilities,” the commission said in a statement.

NISPCO spokeswoman Nichole DeMario said the utility has acknowledged the fine and pledged to correct issues around line locations. She said in a statement that NIPSCO’s goal is to ensure public safety while maintaining a safe natural gas system.

DeMario said the utility typically completes more than 450,000 requests to locate gas lines each year.

“The violation addresses 230, a very small number of instances in which NIPSCO failed to locate or provide an accurate locate for underground utilities when requested by someone doing excavation work,” she said.

NIPSCO is focused on addressing the “root cause” of the violation by using new pipeline safety management system, ensuring maps and records are up to date, more training and internal process improvements to address and identify underground lines, DeMario said.

She said the company cut damage to underground lines by 13%, while reducing the number of locating errors by nearly one-quarter from 2017 to 2019.

West Lafayette
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 54°
Kokomo
Scattered Clouds
51° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 51°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 52°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
Williamsport
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 52°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Frankfort
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 54°
Delphi
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Monticello
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Logansport
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
A Cool Start to October.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 120019

Reported Deaths: 3632
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21671768
Lake10772325
St. Joseph6763116
Elkhart6755112
Allen6411206
Hamilton4997110
Vanderburgh390632
Hendricks2789125
Monroe270837
Tippecanoe265213
Johnson2383126
Clark229357
Porter223347
Delaware204162
Cass19619
Vigo190628
Madison173575
LaPorte153241
Warrick142847
Floyd142064
Howard134164
Kosciusko130117
Bartholomew120357
Marshall102924
Dubois102119
Boone100346
Grant97237
Hancock95143
Noble93532
Henry83027
Wayne78115
Jackson77910
Morgan73940
Shelby68929
Daviess68429
Dearborn67928
LaGrange65111
Clinton64414
Harrison60124
Putnam59211
Gibson5606
Knox54410
Lawrence53029
Montgomery51222
DeKalb50111
White49114
Decatur46339
Miami4394
Greene43236
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3997
Scott39611
Posey3712
Sullivan33912
Jennings31812
Clay3155
Franklin31525
Ripley3098
Whitley2956
Orange28924
Adams2833
Carroll28313
Wabash2758
Starke2747
Wells2734
Washington2702
Spencer2693
Huntington2543
Jefferson2543
Fulton2472
Tipton23323
Randolph2308
Perry22613
Jay1931
Pike1771
Newton17511
Owen1721
Martin1690
Rush1584
Vermillion1330
Fountain1302
Blackford1243
Pulaski1141
Crawford1110
Parke1112
Brown1023
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland680
Warren411
Unassigned0227

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events