Pipeline awareness

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.

Pipeline location

There are several ways to identify if a pipeline or other natural gas facility is located in your community:

Maps

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.

warning pipe

Pipeline markers

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.

Encroachments

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.

Preventing damage

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.

Pipeline integrity

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, visit the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/gas-transmission-integrity-management/gas-transmission-integrity-management-gt-im-overview.

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.

Emergency preparedness

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.

Important contacts

Contact name Number
24-hour customer service 800-242-9137
24-hour natural gas emergency 800-261-5325
All emergencies 911
Before You Dig 811