A pipeline right-of-way is the strip of land over a pipeline. A rights-of-way agreement between a pipeline company and property owner is called an easement. Easements provide pipeline companies with permanent, limited interest to the land to enable the company to operate, test, inspect, maintain and protect their pipelines. Although agreements may vary, pipline companies’ rights-of-way generally extend 25 feet from each side of the pipeline unless specified.
Pipeline rights-of-way must be kept free from obstructions. If a pipeline crosses your property, do not plant trees or high shrubs on the right-of-way. Also, do not dig, store or place anything on or near the right-of-way without first having pipeline company personnel mark the pipeline, stake the rights-of-way and explain the company’s policy.
As a policy, we do not approve of the use of the pipeline rights-of-way as a vehicular trail. Such vehicles can do damage to the pipeline cover and in some instances may damage the pipeline itself. If such trails are to cross the pipeline rights-of-way, the trail owner should contact us to coordinate the installation of a crossing that will ensure there will be no impact to the earthen cover of the pipeline.
If we are going to access personal property as part of any maintenance activity, our personnel will normally attempt to contact the landowners/residents prior to entering the property and advise them of the nature of the company's visit. We do however conduct regular mowing, spraying, and inspection activity on the right-of-way throughout the year that should not impact personal property.
Pipeline Maintenance and Operation
We constantly check the pressure at thousands of points along our system. When pressures approach maximum acceptable levels, operators in the control center are alerted by electronic pressure transmitters so that appropriate action can be taken. Maintenance of the remote transmitter system is conducted system-wide on a regular basis.
With proper diligent maintenance and constantly improving operation and maintenance technology, pipelines made of steel can sustain their usefulness for an indefinite period. There are many pipelines in the U.S. and Canada that have operated safely for several decades and should be able to continue operating safely for the foreseeable future.
The top of natural gas pipelines are at least 30 inches below the ground's surface when installed. The pipe has a special coating which protects the steel from corrosion, and in addition a small amount of electrical current is applied to the pipeline to prevent corrosion. This electrical current is maintained at a very low level that will not harm people or animals in the vicinity of the pipeline. We also inspect the inside of the pipeline using a tool called a (smart pig) that enables us to see if there is any corrosion or other defects that could affect the integrity of the pipeline. If any pipeline wall loss is discovered, that segment of pipe containing the wall loss is repaired or replaced. This testing is done at regular intervals that are required for federal compliance. We also routinely inspect pipelines from above ground using air, foot, and vehicle patrols to look for potential danger.
In most areas it is easy to distinguish where pipelines are because of the cleared corridor known as the rights of way where pipelines will be located. Within the rights-of-way are pipeline marker posts that should be easily seen, one for each pipeline in that right-of-way. These pipelines generally lay parallel to one another but there are exceptions. There should also be a yellow-colored pipeline marker post located directly over or as near to the pipelines as practical. Even if the area is clearly marked you should call the 811 service or the state one-call number which can be located at (www.call811.com) for your state before any digging activity is undertaken in the area.
We operate the pipelines that deliver gas to local gas distribution companies. The distribution companies, in turn, deliver the gas to homes and businesses. If you desire natural gas service to your home, you should contact the local gas distribution company in your area. For more information on which companies offer residential natural gas service in your area, you can visit the New York State Public Service Commission’s “Power to Choose” web page at www.newyorkpowertochoose.com.
Pipeline safety is our number one priority. While we are mandated by federal agencies to have emergency response plans and procedures in place to deal with emergencies, we go beyond what’s required to ensure that we and our local emergency response partners are ready. Local emergency responders are an integral part of our safety team and as such we work closely with them in developing the needed elements of successful plans that clearly define roles and responsibilities to be carried out.
In addition to the training our partners and employees receive in how to protect the public, we also involve community organizations and the general public as well through public awareness programs, the distribution of safety materials in communities, and educational meetings.
Our safety record is exemplary thanks to the dedication of our employees and our commitment to the core values we espouse of safety, integrity, and community. Our gas control and monitoring center offices operate 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week. We regularly patrol our pipeline rights-of-way, we conduct regular inspections of our pipeline system. Our operations employees receive regular training and are qualified under U.S. Department of Transportation standards for natural gas pipeline operators. Additionally, we invest significant funds annually in pipeline upgrades. .
A number of federal and state agencies have oversight responsibilities for the various components and functions of pipelines and processing facilities.
- • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates issues concerned with pipeline siting, pipeline capacity, natural gas quality requirements, and gas transportation rates.
- • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and their state and local agents provide regulation for the safe transportation of natural gas through pipelines.
- • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provide regulations for protection of the environment during the construction and operation of pipeline facilities.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has jurisdiction over the siting of facilities. The issuance of a certificate by them preempts all local planning and zoning regulations as well as regional and state land-use issues. However, we place a strong emphasis on being part of the host community, so we work closely with local officials to build a project about which everyone can be proud.
Property values in most communities fluctuate in up and down cycles. Studies of properties near or adjacent to natural gas pipelines suggest that their ups and downs are equal to the same fluctuations in value as compared to properties that are located away from or adjacent to natural gas pipelines.