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State Weighing Probe Of Peoples Gas Main Replacement Program

CHICAGO (STMW) -- Come Wednesday, the Illinois Commerce Commission will consider opening an investigation into allegations of mismanagement of Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company's natural gas main replacement program.

The move comes after an anonymous letter was delivered to ICC attorneys late February, which alleged that the ongoing management audit of the program, which is being conducted by Liberty Consulting, has been suppressed by Peoples Gas' management and that the safety of the natural gas system might be compromised because of insufficient staffing, according to a statement from the ICC.

ICC staff recommended a thorough and immediate investigation of matters related to Peoples Gas' work on the accelerated main replacement program be conducted, the statement said.

"Peoples Gas takes all allegations of wrongdoing seriously and investigates them thoroughly," according to a statement from People's Gas spokeswoman Jennifer Block. "The overall safety of the natural gas distribution system, our employees and customers remains our top priority.

"We continue to cooperate with Liberty's ongoing audit of the AMRP program and have already begun implementing recommendations from the interim report," Block added. "The ICC has ordered and we support the decision the final Liberty audit will be a public document. As always, we will cooperate with the ICC to address any concerns as they investigate these allegations."

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Energy Corporation and Integrys Energy Group filed a petition seeking authorization for a merger and reorganization on Aug. 6, 2014.

Testimony in the merger case includes discussion of Peoples Gas' accelerated main replacement program, as well as an interim draft report filed by Liberty Consulting, the audit firm chosen by the Commission to monitor work on the main replacement program, the statement said.

Integrys is the parent company of Peoples Gas, Light and Coke Company and North Shore Gas.

The final audit report from Liberty Consulting will be filed with the Commission later this spring.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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