PG&E to reduce pressure on natural gas transmission lines as it reports pressure events

Source: Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) began taking steps, as directed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), to reduce pressure on four natural gas transmission lines. The affected lines experienced temporary pressure increases of more than 10 percent over the maximum allowable operating pressure as established by federal regulations. These regulations require the pressure limits to include a wide margin of safety.

The lines covered by the order run from Manteca to Modesto, Milpitas to San Jose, and Watsonville through Aptos Hills. PG&E does not expect these reductions to impact gas service to customers under normal winter weather conditions. If extreme cold weather is forecast, PG&E will immediately work with the CPUC to minimize any service interruptions.

"We recognize that, in the wake of the tragic accident in San Bruno, we must take immediate steps to improve the operations and safety of our natural gas system," said Chris Johns, President, Pacific Gas and Electric Company. "We have launched a series of initiatives to improve the safety and operations of PG&E's natural gas system – and to better ensure the safety of the communities we serve. This process of improving our gas operations will take time to complete, but we continue to take steps to address any current concerns. We're approaching the entire situation with a great sense of urgency."

PG&E also filed data with the CPUC on two other issues relating to pipeline pressure:

• PG&E identified instances where the company undertook planned pressure increases on 12 transmission lines. In eight instances, PG&E exceeded the maximum allowable operating pressure by a few pounds.

• PG&E also identified 16 instances where pressure on local distribution lines temporarily exceeded the amounts allowed under federal regulation. PG&E checked and replaced any damaged equipment. Pressure limits on distribution lines are set with an even greater margin of safety than on transmission lines.

To further add to the natural gas operations experience of its officer team, PG&E has announced the launch of a global search for a Senior Vice President for Gas Operations. The person selected for this position will have deep experience in gas operations and will initially be dedicated to leading PG&E's efforts to address the operational issues arising from the San Bruno accident. The new hire will focus on gas record systems, operating pressure decisions, equipment upgrades, testing needs and other issues that will ensure the safety of the natural gas system.

PG&E has also has been drawing on the expertise of a number of outside experts who are reviewing pipeline assessment practices, studying pipeline integrity and retooling the way the utility identifies and evaluates potential risks across the gas system.

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