What's New at NGA?

April 2, 2020
April is Safe Digging Month
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and its stakeholders have designated April 2020 as National Safe Digging Month. This month is dedicated to increasing awareness of safe digging practices across the country and of 811, the national call-before-you-dig number. Throughout the month of April, CGA and its members are encouraging homeowners and contractors to call 811 before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. NGA has links to the call centers in the Northeast region here: https://www.northeastgas.org/call_centers.php

NGA Monitoring Coronavirus Situation, Coordinating Industry Committee Work
The Northeast Gas Association (NGA) is monitoring the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our priority remains the health of our staff, our industry partners and members, and the general public. NGA's update on its activities in response to the pandemic can be found here:
https://www.northeastgas.org/covid_19.php
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is maintaining the latest information on this disease on its web site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Tom Kiley, president and CEO of NGA, said in a message to members on March 23:
"The NGA staff has transitioned to a work-from-home environment to protect the health and well-being of all employees. NGA had established a Business Continuity Plan which allows NGA to conduct its many meeting by teleconference and videoconference and meet all financial obligations. Like you, we are hoping to return to our normal environment as soon as practicable but continue to support your companies under the present environment for as long as it exists. The NGA staff joins me in wishing you, your families and your colleagues good health and a safe environment. We will continue to update you as circumstances progress."

Important Gas Safety Awareness Information
NGA has an extensive information section on its web site addressing the important issue of natural gas safety. Learn more here about safe operations of natural gas:
https://www.northeastgas.org/gas_public_awareness.php

FERC and NARUC Join Efforts to Help Ensure Essential Services During Pandemic
On March 26, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) announced they are joining forces in their COVID-19 pandemic response efforts to help ensure the reliability of the nation's energy transmission and distribution systems. As the first step in this partnership, FERC and NARUC are urging all state authorities to designate utility workers as essential to the nation's critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a memorandum March 19 designating a full list of essential workers: healthcare and public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders, food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, transportation and logistics, public works, communications and information technology, other community-based government operations and essential functions, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemical and industrial and the defense industrial base.

The federal government grants authority for such designations to state governments. FERC and NARUC back these designations in support of the energy, water and telecommunications industries, finding it in the best interests of the nation for state and local authorities to assign essential worker status to employees serving in these areas of critical infrastructure.
Look for further details online:
https://ferc.gov/media/news-releases/2020/2020-1/03-26-20.asp#.Xn30CXIpDIU

PHMSA Issues Stay of Enforcement for Pipeline Operators Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
On March 20, PHMSA announced that "is continuing to monitor the effects the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the nation's pipeline operations. As a result, the PHMSA's Pipeline Safety Program issued a Stay of Enforcement to state pipeline safety program managers, pipeline operators, and operators of gas storage and liquefied natural gas facilities. The document explains that the agency will temporarily halt its enforcement of compliance with operator qualification, control room management, and employment drug testing requirements, but does not relieve operators of their safety responsibility to use trained, non-impaired workers to perform operation and maintenance tasks. The document also encourages state pipeline safety partners to consider suspending certain enforcement efforts for noncompliance in the interest of prompt and efficient pipeline safety activities related to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak." The link to the document can be found here: https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/news/phmsa-stay-enforcement-covid-19

PHMSA Issues Guidance to State Pipeline Safety Programs Regarding COVID-19
On March 19, PHMSA announced that "In light of the recent actions taken by federal, state, and local government agencies in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, PHMSA is providing guidance to its state pipeline safety partners on ways to continue to effectively execute their shared pipeline safety mission. The guidance also explains actions PHMSA will take in its efforts to continue to support the activities of state pipeline safety programs during this time. PHMSA recognizes the resources of its state partners may be limited for the foreseeable future and encourages state pipeline safety programs to consider the guidance as they proceed with their oversight activities." The link to the guidance document can be found here: https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/news/phmsa-guidance-state-partners-regarding-covid-19

NGA Suspends Testing & Evaluations for OQ Program in Wake of COVID-19
On March 17, NGA announced that online Operator Qualification (OQ) testing and NGA-delivered OQ performance evaluations have been suspended in light of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. NGA was notified on the morning of March 17 that Prometric, the site of online testing, has made the decision to suspend operations at all Prometric test centers in the U.S. and Canada. (Prometric is the internationally known online testing company that administers NGA's online OQ testing.) Prometric expects this shut down to be one month in duration - depending on the situation and how it evolves. NGA supports this decision. Following the Prometric announcement, NGA likewise made the decision to suspend NGA-delivered performance evaluations. Look for further information here:
https://www.northeastgas.org/pdf/nga_oq_testing.pdf

NGA's "Regional Market Trends Forum" Will Now Be Held in April 2021
Due to the coronavirus public health emergency, NGA has postponed its annual "Regional Market Trends Forum" that was planned for April 23 in Hartford, CT. We are pleased to announce that we have confirmed the 2021 event for April 29, 2021 in Hartford, and we hope to see you there.