Director of Facilities Protection
PUF: Tell us about your role here.
Michelle Thebert: I am the Director of Facilities Protection, which includes pipeline safety and the enforcement of the Georgia Utilities Facilities Protection Act (GUFPA) or Georgia's damage prevention statute.
Pipeline Safety Staff inspects intrastate natural gas pipelines, reviews proposed safety boundaries, investigates natural gas incidents, etc. A majority of their time is spent conducting periodic reviews/audits of natural gas operators' compliance with federal and state pipeline safety regulations. This is accomplished through both office and field inspections. There are over eighty natural gas operators located in Georgia that are jurisdictional to the GPSC.
GUFPA Staff investigates any reported damages to underground utilities (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications fiber/cable, water lines, etc.) A majority of their time is spent enforcing the state damage prevention law.
PUF: What do they (pipeline safety inspectors) look for?
Michelle Thebert: Our inspectors audit/review the natural gas operators' records, including work orders, leak survey data, compliance with procedures, emergency plans, public awareness programs, etc., to ensure that the operators are following the applicable laws and regulations.