Gas Pipeline Safety

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Your safety is our top priority. MGE continually invests in pipeline integrity programs and maintenance that allow for the safe and secure delivery of natural gas. Our integrity management programs provide a process for inspecting and maintaining more than 2,800 miles of natural gas pipelines based on best industry practices.

gas pipeline marker

We know that safe, dependable natural gas is critical to our customers. When notified of a potential natural gas emergency, our response time has ranked in the top 10 in the country in each of the last nine years. In 2022, the most recent data available, our average response time was more than five minutes faster than the national average.

As new technologies are developed in pipeline design, construction, inspections and operations, we will continue to invest in programs, processes and training that allow for the safe delivery of natural gas.

Our current integrity programs ensure that we:

  • Design a system with customer reliability and safety as the top priorities.
  • Continuously inspect our system and promptly address any potential hazards.
  • Employ a qualified workforce and provide annual, hands-on training at our state-of-the-art training facility. Our employees are specially trained, through classroom and simulated exercises in the installation and maintenance of our natural gas system and adherence to all applicable codes and standards.
  • Provide safety education seminars about safe digging practices to contractors and excavators.
  • Partner with public officials, emergency responders, contractors and excavators to prepare for emergencies and establish proper communication channels.
  • Train local first responders, firefighters and police in emergency response protocol.
  • Provide on-call employees 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to respond to emergencies.
  • Maintain active memberships in organizations such as the Wisconsin Utilities Association and Wisconsin's Diggers Hotline.

Call Diggers Hotline

To protect pipelines and other underground facilities from accidental damage, call Diggers Hotline at 1-800-242-8511 a minimum of three business days before digging. Diggers Hotline will notify MGE and other utilities to mark their underground facilities at no charge to you.

  • You'll know where it is safe to dig.
  • You'll avoid hefty fines for causing accidental damage because of digging without calling ahead.
  • It's the law.

Accidental damage during excavation is the greatest risk to underground natural gas pipelines. Even minor damage can cause a leak or failure.

Recognizing a Gas Leak

If you notice any of the following, call MGE's emergency phone number: (608) 252-1111 for Madison-area calls or 1-800-245-1123 for long-distance calls.

  • Distinctive, harmless chemical odor MGE adds to natural gas
  • Dead or dying vegetation for no apparent reason
  • White cloud, mist, fog, bubbles in standing water or blowing dust
  • Unusual noise such as roaring, hissing or whistling

Learn more about Natural Gas Safety.

Respect Right-of-Way

The area along each side of the pipeline is called the right-of-way. The owner of the underground facilities has the right to restrict certain activities (even on private property). Right-of-way locations are usually on maps filed with local municipalities. Diggers Hotline can provide these details.

Pipeline Markers

gas pipeline safetyPipeline markers are sometimes used to indicate the approximate location of underground pipelines. Pipeline markers display:

  • Approximate location of pipelines.
  • Material transported in the line.
  • Name of pipeline operator.
  • Operator telephone number in case of an emergency.

Markers cannot be relied on for exactness. Because many lines are not marked, it is critical that you contact Diggers Hotline prior to any excavation.

Excess Flow Valves

Since 2000, MGE has installed Excess Flow Valves (EFVs) on all new, replaced or reconnected natural gas service lines for single-family residences. EFVs reduce the risk of accidents in natural gas pipelines by automatically shutting off the gas between the gas main and the building it serves in the event of an increased flow of gas. An increased flow of gas can result from damage or breakage to the pipeline due to excavation or natural disasters.

In 2017, federal regulations were expanded to include installation of EFVs on all new, replaced or reconnected gas service lines for multi-family residences and small commercial buildings with capacities up to 1000 cubic feet per hour (CFH).

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