PHMSA Answers Questions on EFV’s

PHMSA published the final rule Expanding the Use of Excess Flow Valves in Gas Distribution Systems to Applications Other Than Single-Family Residences on October 14, 2016, with an effective date of April 14, 2017.  The EFV final rule changed 49 CFR part 192 regulations regarding the use of Excess Flow Valves  and manual service line shut-off valves on gas service lines.  Industry and other stakeholders widely agreed on the content of the final rule.

The following questions were generated during two webinars that were held regarding the Final Rule, and each is followed by the response developed by PHMSA.

Glossary: 

Acronym Term
AGA American Gas Association
EFV Excess Flow Valve
MFR Multi-family Residence
O&M Operations & Maintenance
SCFH Standard Cubic Feet per Hour
SFR Single-family Residence

Section 1 – Answers to questions posed verbally during the AGA webinars.

  1. How do we go about recovering costs for existing services?

 For customer-requested EFVs on existing service lines, note that section 192.383(d) states, in relevant part: “If an eligible service line customer requests an EFV installation, an operator must install the EFV at a mutually agreeable date.  The operator’s rate-setter determines how and to whom the costs of the requested EFVs are distributed.”

  1. Valves installed on branch services need to be commercially available, correct? Even in cases beyond 1,000 SCFH?

 Yes, for a new or replaced branched service line, an EFV must be installed pursuant to section 192.383(b)(2) or (3) unless an appropriate EFV is not commercially available, as noted in 192.383(c)(4).

  1. If the rate-setter determines the customer has to pay for the EFV, and the customer cannot pay or refuses to pay, is the operator still required to install the EFV?

 This question is left to the specific rate-setter.  Section 192.383(d) provides, in relevant part: “The operator’s rate-setter determines how and to whom the costs of the requested EFVs are distributed.”

  1. On annual reporting – is the rule only capturing the recording of the valves installed under 192.385? Same issue – estimated number of services installed – is the rule only capturing the curb valves/services installed in lieu of an EFV?

 Yes, the rule only requires reporting of the total number of manual service line shut-off valves (curb valves) and total services with those valves installed pursuant to section 192.385.  Reporting requirements for EFV installations have not changed.

  1. Would PHMSA allow exception to EFV installation close to the main if there would be a cost savings to installing close to the riser?

No, cost savings alone is not considered.  Section 192.381(d) requires EFV installation “as near as practical to the fitting connecting the service line to its source of gas supply.”  EFVs only provide protection downstream of their installation, so in most cases installation at the service riser would limit the utility and safety effectiveness of installing an EFV.

  1. Do SFRs have the options of having curb valves installed, or must an EFV be installed?
    If the line meets an exception 192.383(c), a curb valve does not need to be installed, correct?

 Under section 192.383(b)(1), (2), and (3), SFRs and branched service lines do not have the option for installing a manual service line shut-off valve or curb valve in place of an EFV.  Similarly, under section 192.383(b)(4) and (5), MFRs and single, small commercial customers served by a single service line with a known customer load not exceeding 1,000 SCFH do not have the option for installing a curb valve in place of an EFV.
In response to the second question, if a line that otherwise would require installation of an EFV pursuant to 192.383(b) meets one of the exceptions in 192.383(c), a curb valve does not need to be installed.

  1. In 192.383(b)(2)&(3), can you install an EFV on the branch to multiple commercial services, or must an EFV be installed on each individual commercial service?

Section 192.383(b)(2) and (3) only pertains to branched SFRs, and section 192.383(b)(5) only addresses single, small commercial customers served by a single service line.

  1. For branched small commercial services where the connected load is greater than 1,000 SCFH, can I install a curb valve at the main to cover all the lines rather than putting a valve on each service line?

Similar to the EFV installation requirements in sections 192.381 and 192.383, the intent of section 192.385 is to protect the service line by addition of EFVs or curb valves.  Therefore, to protect as much of the service line as is practicable, the valve should be located near the service main or a common source of supply.
In most cases these valves are expected to be “ON” the service line itself.

  1. If we elect to install an EFV beyond 1,000 SCFH, is a curb valve still required?

If an EFV is installed to comply with the requirements of section 192.385, then a curb valve would not be required in addition to the EFV.

  1. Do we only need to notify new customers after making the initial notification?

A web posting accessible to all applicable customers, which includes sufficient information to assist customers in making an informed decision whether they want to request an EFV installation and meets the Part 192 notification requirements, could be acceptable.  If this web posting would not reach all applicable customers, an operator could use other methods in combination with the web posting method, including bill stuffers, new customer packets, statements on billing materials, et cetera.  But a broad, electronic method of communication could meet the intent of the regulation and be acceptable as long as the operator can be sure of reaching all customers who have a right to request an EFV.

  1. How soon would incremental notifications need to be made moving forward?

 Initial notification is required by April 14, 2017.  The regulations do not provide a timetable for incremental notifications, noting only that customers are required to be notified.
Notification frequency is not explicit in the regulations.  The intent is that all customers who have a right to request an EFV are notified pursuant to section 192.383 requirements.  The frequency of this notification is left to the operator, with the understanding that the “customer” may change over time (i.e., new customers must be notified).

  1. Does PHMSA have a preference to whether EFVs or curb valves are installed for services above 1,000 SCFH?

In situations where either an EFV or a curb valve must be installed pursuant to section 192.385, the operator may decide based on a sound engineering analysis.

  1. How does an operator know if they are reaching all customers through a website notification that meets the requirement of the regulation?

A web posting accessible to all applicable customers, which includes sufficient information to assist customers in making an informed decision whether they want to request an EFV installation and meets the Part 192 notification requirements, could be acceptable.  If this web posting would not reach all applicable customers, an operator could use other methods in combination with the web posting method, including bill stuffers, new customer packets, statements on billing materials, et cetera.  But a broad, electronic method of communication could meet the requirement of the regulation as long as the communication reaches all customers who have a right to request an EFV.

  1. If I have a maintenance-free ball valve as a curb valve, what is my maintenance requirement?

As stated in the final rule’s preamble, operator personnel can meet the requirements of section 192.385(c) by ensuring the valves are free of debris that could prevent operation and by ensuring the valves can turn and operate.
Operators will be expected to develop the details of their maintenance plans.
Also, an operator’s O&M Manuals or manufacturer’s instructions could add additional maintenance requirements.  Note that the requirement includes the words “consistent with the valve manufacturer’s specification” as well.

  1. Do the exemptions for EFV installation apply to curb valve installation as well? If I have a line with a load above 1,000 SCFH but operating below 10 psig (or meeting another of the 383(c) exceptions), do I have to install a curb valve?

No, the exceptions in section 192.383(c) do not apply to curb valves.
In a scenario where section 192.385 requires the installation of a curb valve, an operator would be required to install a curb valve even if exceptions for using an EFV existed.

  1. Can I locate my curb box at the property line, or must the curb valve be located closer to the main? Is it acceptable to have, for instance, a 10-foot “stub line” from the main to the property line?

Similar to the EFV installation requirements in sections 192.381 and 192.383, the intent of section 192.385 is to protect the service line by the addition of EFVs or valves.  Therefore, to protect as much of the service line as is practicable, the valve should be located near the service main or a common source of supply.
In most cases these valves are expected to be “ON” the service line itself.
We are interested in feedback from AGA and others in the gas community as to what type of situations might require the installation of a curb valve at a location other than on the service line, as near to the main as possible.


Section 2 – Answers to questions posed in writing prior to the AGA webinars.

  1. PHMSA provides exceptions for MFRs (see §192.383(b)(4)) and Single, Small Commercial Customers (see §192.383(b)(5)), but not for SFRs or Branched Service Lines. Is it PHMSA’s intent that SFR or branched service lines with loads exceeding 1,000 SCFH to have an exception as well?

From the information provided to PHMSA through the rulemaking process, including the comments received and responded to within the final rule’s preamble, PHMSA does not expect SFRs or SFR branched services to typically exceed 1,000 SCFH loads.  Therefore, the upper bound triggering the requirements of section 192.385 for curb valve or EFV installation was only noted for MFRs and service lines serving single, small commercial customers.
PHMSA did not intend to create an exception from the EFV installation requirements for SFRs and SFR branched services over 1,000 SCFH, but this scenario was not expected.  Service lines serving SFRs and SFR branched services require an EFV even if over 1,000 SCFH, and operators do not have the option to install curb valves instead.

  1. What is PHMSA’s intent for “known load”? Is it the total connected load at time of service installation?

“Known Customer Load” is based on the installed meter capacity, which indicates the max load expected.  EFVs should be sized so that they are compatible with the meter being used.

  1. PHMSA references two criteria in (192.383(b)(4) & (5)): Customer Load & Meter Capacity. Which criteria does PHMSA intend operators to use?

The response to Question #2 also applies here.  In short, meter capacity is to be used.

  1. What is PHMSA’s intent when it states that an EFV “could interfere with necessary operation or maintenance activities”? For Example: Does PHMSA intend to exempt service lines that are longer than the manufacturer’s recommendation for the length of a service line?

Please note that, although the scope of the services section 192.383(c)(2) have changed, the substantive requirements of section 192.383(c)(2) were not changed through this final rule, other than the last word which was changed from “residence” to “customer.”
For example, if an operator’s O&M activities include blowing liquids from your line, and an EFV could shut and interfere with necessary activities, this exception could be valid.  An EFV is not meant to be an impediment to necessary O&M activities, and there may be relatively rare situations in which installation of an EFV could constitute such an impediment.

  1. Are operators required to make notification to customers by April 14, 2017? Or by the end of 2017?  Or some other date?

Operators are required to make the appropriate notifications by April 14, 2017.

  1. Is a web posting notification by April 14 acceptable?

The operator may decide to follow up with other communications later.
A web posting accessible to all applicable customers, which includes sufficient information to assist customers in making an informed decision whether they want to request an EFV installation and meets the Part 192 notification requirements, could be acceptable.  If this web posting would not reach all applicable customers, an operator could use other methods in combination with the web posting method, including bill stuffers, new customer packets, statements on billing materials, et cetera.  But a broad, electronic method of communication could meet the intent of the regulation and be acceptable as long as the operator can be sure of reaching all customers who have a right to request an EFV.

  1. What is the “frequency” to which you must notify customers under §192.383(e)?

Notification frequency is not explicit in the regulations.  The intent is that operators notify all customers who have a right to request an EFV pursuant to section 192.383 requirements.  The frequency at which this occurs is left to the operator, with the understanding that the “customer” may change over time (i.e., new customers must be notified).

  1. What is the expected location of this service line shut-off valve? As close as possible to the main?

For curb valves installed under section 192.385, an operator should locate the valve as close to the main as is practicable to protect as much of the service line as possible (similar to EFV requirements in section 192.383) but to allow for accessibility of the valve, as is required.  The next question is related, and reading PHMSA’s responses in tandem may help to answer both questions. 

  1. What is meant by “located near the service line”?

Similar to the EFV installation requirements in sections 192.381 and 192.383, the intent of section 192.385 is to protect the service line by addition of EFVs or valves.  Therefore, in order to protect as much of the service line as is practicable, the valve should be located near the service main or a common source of supply.
In most cases these valves are expected to be “ON” the service line itself.
We are interested in feedback from AGA and others in the gas community as to what type of situations might require the installation of a curb valve at a location other than on the service line, as near to the main as possible.

  1. What items can be expected to be covered during “regular scheduled maintenance”? For Example: Find, locate, and make accessible valve box; and ensure “wrench/tool” can be placed on valve to enable turning if needed.

As stated in the final rule’s preamble, operator personnel can meet the requirements of section 192.385(c) by ensuring the valves are free of debris that could prevent operation and by ensuring the valves can turn and operate.
Operators will be expected to develop the details of their maintenance plans.
Also, an operator’s O&M Manuals or manufacturer’s instructions could add additional maintenance requirements.  Note that the requirement includes the words “consistent with the valve manufacturer’s specification” as well.


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