Learn how to stay safe around underground natural gas pipelines and other natural gas facilities.
Planning and working together
We Energies provides safe
and reliable natural gas to to more than 1.1 million customers across Wisconsin.
We maintain about 20,000 miles of natural gas distribution mains and 530 miles
of natural gas transmission pipelines.
We work hard to keep our delivery system safe and reliable and count on you to
follow all natural gas safety rules and report any incidents.
The delivery system
Every day in the United States, several million cubic feet of natural gas
travel through an underground delivery system
to 64 million utility customers. The gas is extracted from the earth and fed
into gathering and transmission lines that bring supplies to all regions of
the United States. Some natural gas is stored underground for use later.
Natural gas is brought to utilities' "gate stations" that feed into gas mains,
then to your homes and businesses via service lines.
The We Energies natural gas
delivery system has an excellent track record of safety and reliability.
The company regularly tests, inspects, monitors and upgrades its
system as required by state and federal laws.
There are several ways to identify if a pipeline or other natural gas
facility is located in your community:
Underground natural gas facilities are practically everywhere:
under streets and highways, around your home and business, in
rural and urban communities. For security reasons, we do not
provide maps containing exact locations of pipelines. You can
find general pipeline maps here:
National Pipeline Mapping System.
We have installed above-ground markers to indicate our
pipeline "rights-of-way." However, markers do not indicate the exact location and depth of
the pipeline. The markers provide a toll-free number (800-261-5325)
to report problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Transmission line markers are typically
placed at public road crossings, fence lines and street intersections. In most cases, these
are not located inside urban service territories. The public should become familiar with
nearby marker locations, and report any unusual or suspicious activities near these markers
to their local police and the pipeline operator.
In order to perform required safety inspections on our pipelines, we must
have clear access to the pipeline right-of-way. The area on either side of our
pipelines must be kept clear of trees, sheds and other structures.
The leading cause of accidents on a natural gas delivery system is hitting
lines when digging. Serious injury or death, property damage and service
outages can occur if gas pipes are stuck during excavation.
You are required by law to call 811 at least two business days before you
dig or excavate. Utilities will mark underground pipes at your site free of charge.
Once underground facilities are marked, you are required to follow established
guidelines when digging to prevent striking them.
If you plan to dig in the We Energies
service territory, first call 811.
Identifying pipeline damage
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. That's why utilities add an odorant
called mercaptan to natural gas. Its unpleasant smell helps alert you in the
event of a gas leak. The unintentional release of gas is dangerous to the public
and could cause fires, explosions, injury, and even death.
A gas leak or damaged pipeline is indicated by the following:
- A strong odor
- A blowing or hissing sound from underground natural gas facilities or pipes
- Dirt blowing into the air or water bubbling
- Grass, plants or bushes turning brown over natural gas facilities
- Fire coming out of the ground
If you observe the above conditions, call the 800-261-5325
emergency phone number, the number on the pipeline marker or 9-1-1 from another location.
Excess flow valves
An excess flow valve (EFV) is a safety device designed to automatically stop the flow
of natural gas through the service line if it exceeds a predetermined rate. When activated,
an EFV may prevent the buildup of natural gas and lessen the potential for property damage and/or injury.
It should be noted that these devices generally do not protect against slow leaks, such as those caused by
corrosion or loose fittings, or leaks located along customer-owned piping beyond the natural gas meter.
Many customers already have an EFV installed on their existing natural gas service line. Customers who do not
have an EFV may be eligible to have one installed at their own expense. Cost typically ranges from $850 to $2,000 depending
on the location and conditions of the installation site. Customers can request more information about EFV installations by
calling our 24-hour customer service at 800-242-9137.
To ensure safety, We Energies works
diligently to comply with the Gas Integrity Management Rule, established by the
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. This mandate requires We Energies to
identify high density population areas and perform periodic inspections of
pipelines located in those areas. Our Pipeline Integrity program
describes these high density population areas, characterizes threats to the
pipelines in these areas, describes how these pipelines will be tested, and how
any defects will be evaluated and repaired. The effectiveness of this program
is monitored, and the program is modified as needed to improve its effectiveness.
Physical damage to the pipeline and facilities is considered one of the most
severe threats to people and the environment. Our recently established Pipeline
Integrity and Public Awareness program ensures better protection from pipeline
incidents. To learn more about pipeline integrity management, log on to
the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website
Our inspection and safety activities
- We survey for possible leaks on our distribution mains every year in populated communities and every other year in more rural areas. (Federal requirement for main surveys is once every five years).
- All transmission pipelines are surveyed for leaks at least once per year.
- All of our 1 million customer service lines are inspected within every three years. (Federal requirement for service line surveys is once every five years).
- We have corrosion protection on all steel pipe in our system. (Federal requirement requires corrosion inspections only on pipes installed prior to 1971.)
- Our corrosion protection is monitored continuously and tested every year.
- Wisconsin limits distribution system operating pressure at 60 psig (pounds per square inch). (Federal limit allows for distribution systems to operate at 125 psig.)
- Along with inspecting existing lines, we invest about $50 million every year in upgrading and replacing mains and service lines throughout the area.
- We work with local public safety agencies to provide emergency response training and safety information.
- Each year, we sponsor contractor workshops to reinforce safety guidelines for construction crews that work around natural gas and electric facilities.
Public safety and environmental protection are a priority for
We Energies. We have
longstanding relationships with emergency responders where our facilities are
located, as well as established, federally required emergency response plans
in place. Our personnel are ideally trained and equipped to manage any natural
gas incident in conjunction with emergency response officials.