BLOG: New Law Requires Public Disclosure of Utility Safety Reports

 

When it comes to power line safety, how does your local utility measure up? Now with a quick keyboard click you can find out.

The Public Utility Commission recently announced the online availability of power line safety reports for all Texas electric utilities. Available at the PUC Spotlight link on the agency’s website, the reports include details about utility structures that don’t comply with safety standards, any injuries or fatalities associated with such non-compliant structures, and actions taken by utilities to prevent future accidents.

House Bill 4150 that became effective last September requires the disclosures. Under it, all companies in Texas that own transmission and distribution assets — including electric cooperatives and municipally-owned utilities — must file annual reports, five-year reports, and employee training reports.

Admittedly dry reading, the reports nonetheless include interesting tidbits. For instance, an annual report filed by CenterPoint Energy reveals that the Houston-based company in 2019 identified 246 locations where vertical clearances did not meet 2017 national standards. “However, these facilities were all constructed prior to 2017, and the (standards) in effect at the time of the construction would need to be reviewed for each facility to determine if it, in fact, did not meet … requirements at the time of the inspection.”

In addition to accessing reports at the PUC Spotlight section, interested readers also can review the annual reports (Project No. 50596) here, the five-year reports (Project No. 50594) here, and the training reports (Project No. 50595) here.

— R.A. Dyer