Rural Gas Program

 
 
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Program Information
 
 
 

Agency:

Rural Utilities
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

For Further Information Contact:

Tel: 780-427-0944 Fax: 780-422-1613
Email: tom.kee@gov.ab.ca
 
Downloadable Forms
Rural Utilities Portal "RUP" Guide - PDF 2290K
Tips for Leak/Damage Form - PDF 279K
 

 
Program Details
 
 
 

Our address is Room 202, J.G. O'Donoghue Building, 7000-113 Street, Edmonton Alberta, T6H 5T6.

The Rural Utilities Branch is responsible for ensuring the safe and orderly development of natural gas distribution systems, conducting technical reviews, issuing approvals, development of policy issues respecting rural gas utility operations and business practices and regulation of gas co-ops.

Under the program, natural gas service has been provided to over 212,000 consumers through 74 participating utilities. Over 131,000 km of natural gas pipelines have been constructed making it the largest rural gas pipeline system in the world.

Regulatory

Gas Distribution Act-Standards
The Act provides for the Chief Officer to set the standards for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of rural gas utilities and low pressure distribution systems. The department has adopted Canadian Standards Association code Z662 as the standard. This is a national standard set by CSA for utility distribution systems. The department is represented on the CSA committee responsible for developing this standard. It is important that we have representation on this committee. As Alberta's rural gas system is unique, the gas distribution industry in Alberta has proven to be innovative in developing new techniques and procedures, which are taken forward to the CSA committee for adoption in the code. Without this representation, the interests of Alberta distributors may not be considered.

Franchise Area Approvals
This Act also provides for the issuance of rural gas franchise areas that gives distributors, with very few exceptions, the exclusive right to provide natural gas service to all potential consumers. Issues relating to infringement on existing franchises, service rights to customers, and expansion of franchises are frequently brought forward to the department for resolution.

Rural Utilities Act, Rural Utilities Regulation & Standard By-Laws
The Branch also administers the provisions of the Rural Utilities Act, including incorporations, amalgamations, supplemental by-laws of rural gas co-ops and the overseeing of the business affairs of rural gas co-ops.

Construction / Technical Review and Approval

Rural gas distributors are required to submit construction applications for new gas services to the Branch prior to construction. These submissions are reviewed from a technical perspective to ensure orderly development of gas distribution systems, proper design, adequacy and quality of gas supply, and determine eligibility for grant assistance.

The Branch does a comparison of construction approvals with as-built submissions in conjunction with the distributors year-end audit of costs. Discrepancies that are found must be reconciled and approved before costs for these can be included in the final grant calculation. Unreported construction activities are Non-Budget and do not qualify for grants.

Questions should be directed to Maureen Magee at (780) 427-1931 or email maureen.magee@gov.ab.ca

Safety

The Rural Utilities Branch is responsible for ensuring the safe construction, operation and maintenance of all gas distribution systems including urban areas such as cities, towns, & villages.

There are a number of initiatives that the Branch undertakes to ensure the safety of the public and those involved in the distribution business.

1. Incorporation of a Quality Management Plan (QMP) which requires all distributors to acknowledge and commit to designing, constructing, operating and maintaining the system in accordance with various standards and in a manner which ensures the safety of customers, employees or the general public.

Under the Gas Distribution Act, the Department has the ability to conduct audits of distributors' operations to ensure they are fulfilling their commitment under the QMP. These audits are being conducted through third parties and by department staff.


2.

Annually, distributors are required to submit digital as-built plans of their systems to the department. These plans are critical to the safety of workers in the energy sector, utility business and third party contractors involved in excavation. The Co-op and County-owned system plans are provided to the Alberta Energy Regulator in PDF format for distribution to the public. All distributors' low-pressure pipelines are provided, in digital format, to companies that provide pipeline search services.

3.

Before any construction can take place, distributors are required to obtain an easement from the landowner. Easements are also a safety measure as they indicate to the landowner and those conducting a title search that a buried facility is contained within the property.

Rural Gas Program - Grants

Grants are available to rural gas co-ops thru the Alberta Federation of Gas Co-ops.

Manuals, Bulletins and Mapping

Manuals Bulletins Mapping Guide Business Services Forms
For assistance with Annual Returns contact Marie Matras.

Leak / Damage Form
Provides a form which is used to report information on leaks and third party damages in accordance with the Gas Distribution Act. Additional Links:
 
 
 
 
For more information about the content of this document, contact Ag-Info Centre.

Last Reviewed/Revised on September 8, 2015.