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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #PI-01-0113 ([Montana Public Service Commission] [Mr. G. Joel Tierney])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Montana Public Service Commission

Individual Name: Mr. G. Joel Tierney

Location State: MT Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Special Programs Administration
400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

June 25, 2001

Mr. G. Joel Tierney
Utilities Engineer
Montana Public Service Commission
1701 Prospect Avenue
Helena, MT 59620-2601

Dear Mr. Tierney:

This is in response to your letter of May 31, 2001, requesting an interpretation of the definition of Master Meter System as it applies to the Anaconda Housing Authority (AHA).

AHA claims that its pipeline system, which serves multifamily public housing, does not meet the definition of Master Meter System at 49 CFR § 191.3 because:

  1. AHA does not resell the natural gas. Rather, it pays the utilities itself and does not pass the cost on to the tenants.
  2. AHA meets the definition for the test of "Total Tenant Rent" in 24 CFR § 913.107 because it does not pass on the cost of utilities to its tenants.
  3. AHA receives a subsidy for utilities from the Federal government and does not bill or receive payment from the tenants for utilities.

We disagree. The gas distribution lines downstream from the master meter are a Master Meter System that is subject to the federal gas pipeline safety regulations in 49 CFR Parts 191 and 192.

The AHA system meets the requirements for classification as a Master Meter System as defined in the pipeline safety regulations at 49 CFR § 191.3:

"a pipeline system for distributing gas within, but not limited to, a definable area, such as a mobile home park, housing project, or apartment complex, where the operator purchases metered gas from an outside source for resale through a gas distribution pipeline system. The gas distribution pipeline system supplies the ultimate consumer who either purchases the gas directly through a meter or by other means, such as by rents."

For purposes of determining whether the AHA gas distribution pipeline facilities are subject to regulation under 49 CFR Parts 191 and 192, we need only determine that the facilities are pipeline facilities and that the gas is being delivered to tenants who either pay a gas bill directly or do so indirectly through rents.

There is no contention that the AHA facilities are not a pipeline facility. In this case, only the interior piping within the buildings, beyond the first penetration of each building wall is non-jurisdictional. And, the tenants are clearly paying a rent for the privilege of occupying a housing unit and receiving utilities, including gas. The fact that they are not billed for the gas and that there are subsidies for utility costs from the government under Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs are not relevant to the determination that AHA's gas distribution system is subject to the pipeline safety regulations.

Therefore, the AHA gas distribution system is a Master Meter System and is subject to the pipeline safety regulations at 49 CFR Parts 191 and 192.

If you need further assistance, please call me at (202) 366-4565.

Sincerely yours,

Richard D. Huriaux, P.E.
Manager, Regulations
Office of Pipeline Safety

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
192.3 Definitions