Gas, Retrofits & Upgrades

PG&E completes natural gas pipeline safety report

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has submitted its final pipeline safety enhancement report to Caifornia utility regulators this month, outlining some 585 projects completed since the plan was first submitted more than seven years ago after a deadly explosion.

PG&E says the report sent to the California Public Utilities Commission details nearly 600 projects along its 6,600-mile gas transmission pipeline system. Those projects include automated valve installation, strength testing, as well as replacement, upgrade and in-line inspections.

“This final report outlines a number of important milestones in our commitment to gas safety, reliability, affordability and environmental stewardship,” Jesus Soto, PG&E’s senior vice president for gas operations, said in a statement. “While we have completed the specified enhancements and upgrade projects as they relate to PSEP, our commitment to safety work is ongoing. We are continuously looking to identify new ways to make our extensive natural gas system the safest in the nation, because when it comes to safety, our work is never done.”

The Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan was first submitted to regulators in August 2011, 11 months after a PG&E gas line exploded in San Bruno. The blast and resulting fire killed eight people in the quiet neighborhood.

PG&E was convicted of six felony charges related to the San Bruno explosion. It was fined millions of dollars and forced to take out ads promising extensive planning for safety enhancements.

The utility also recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to billions of dollars in expected liabilities for deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018. PG&E has admitted that its equipment likely started at least one of the major fires last year.

On the natural gas pipeline safety plan, upgrades included: Completed 673.5 miles of strength testing; Replaced 114.9 miles of transmission pipe, downrating 12.0 miles to distribution system and retiring 9.1 miles of pipeline; Upgraded 202.4 miles of pipeline to accept ILI technology; Installed 217 automated valves; Completed the records collection and maximum allowable operating pressure validation of PG&E’s entire transmission pipeline system; and made material improvements in PG&E’s records processes and system and application tools.

PG&E has more than 16 million customers for its natural and electric services in northern and centeral California.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).