The natural gas industry and its distribution network are routinely subject to rigorous inspection, maintenance and oversight within the company and at the federal and state level. This includes the promulgation of a pipeline integrity management rule that requires periodic pipeline inspections and repairs as necessary.
Natural gas utilities and pipelines undertake a wide range of safety programs, including:
participation in excavation damage prevention initiatives, installing above-ground markers to indicate the location of buried gas lines; performing visual inspections and leak surveys of their systems to identify potential problems; maintaining rigid requirements for qualification and inspection of construction techniques used in their systems; and supporting research and development focused on inspection technologies, pipeline integrity, corrosion prevention and construction techniques.
Hearthstone Utilities Inc., a holding company, distributes and sells natural gas to end-use residential, commercial and industrial customers. It distributes approximately 26 billion cubic feet of natural gas to approximately 70,900 customers through regulated utilities operating in Montana, Ohio, Maine and North Carolina. The Company’s other operations include natural gas production and natural gas marketing. The Company's Montana public utility was originally incorporated in 1909.
Hearthstone Utilities' strategy for growth is to expand throughput, particularly in the Maine and North Carolina markets, while looking for acquisitions that are either adjacent to its existing utilities or in under saturated markets.