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PG&E Embraces Obama Safety Recommendations

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One of the largest natural gas and electric utilities in the United States is lauding recent safety recommendations by the Obama administration.

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) said it welcomes the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to expand the use of excess flow valves on natural gas distribution service lines in the United States, according to an Aug. 6 company statement. Excess flow valves can immediately detect a change in pressure and restrict gas flow if a line is broken or damaged. The valves act as an added layer of protection for customers and communities by limiting the amount of gas that can escape from a damaged service line.

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PHMSA’s proposal includes the installation of excess flow valves on new and fully replaced service lines for multi-family residences and small commercial entities, in addition to the existing requirement for single-family residential lines.

As part of PG&E’s commitment to safety, the company voluntarily imposed this practice throughout its 70,000-square-mile service area earlier this year. More than 127,000 excess flow valves have been installed by PG&E for single-family homes since 2009.

“We embrace PHMSA’s proposal and are incredibly pleased that the industry is increasing its safety standards,” said Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E’s executive vice president of Gas Operations. “At PG&E, our highest priority is the safety of our customers, employees and the communities we serve, which is why we began implementing these standards earlier this year as a part of our mission to become the safest, most reliable gas system in the nation.”

As part of PG&E’s commitment to safety, the company has also:

  • Decommissioned all of the company’s 847 miles of cast-iron pipe in its system, replacing it with stronger, more resilient and seismically sound pipe.
  • Opened a new gas operations control centerin 2013, which employs the most advanced technology available, providing unprecedented visibility into the natural gas system and enabling a more predicative and rapid response in an emergency.
  • Applied new gas leak detection technology that is 1,000 times more sensitivethan traditional methods in order to help find and fix leaks before they become a problem.
  • Established itself as one of the fastest in the entire industry responding to gas odor calls — averaging 19.9 minutes in 2014.
  • Completed 10 out of the 12 recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and work on the remaining two is on track.

PG&E is reviewing all aspects of the proposed rule and will work with regulators and stakeholders on any recommendations. The proposal is open for public comment through Sept. 14 and if approved would go into effect in October.

 

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