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PG&E Releases Comprehensive Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Plan Rigorous Pipeline Testing and Replacement, Installation of Automated Valves and Records Verification Will Help Meet Strict New Safety Standards

Release Date: August 26, 2011
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today proposed a multi-year modernization plan to make its natural gas transmission pipeline system one of the safest in the country. The utility filed the plan with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which is now in the process of setting new, more stringent safety and performance requirements for natural gas utilities in the wake of the tragic San Bruno accident.

The plan outlines steps the utility intends to take over the next several years to rigorously verify and upgrade the integrity of all of its nearly 6,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines to meet strict new statewide safety standards. The planned measures include:

  • Strength testing all pipe segments that have not been previously strength tested (including those previously exempted by federal regulations), replacing segments that should be replaced, and retrofitting pipelines to allow internal inspections, or "pigging";
  • Enhancing electronic monitoring of the gas system to identify operational issues and prevent or quickly locate pipeline ruptures;
  • Expanding the use of automated valves to isolate and minimize damage if any pipeline ruptures do occur; and
  • Transitioning away from traditional paper records and consolidating all of its gas transmission pipeline data into an integrated electronic data management system to strengthen system operations, maintenance, inspections and regulatory compliance.

"This plan represents a clear break with the way PG&E and other gas utilities once approached pipeline safety," said Nick Stavropoulos, Executive Vice President of gas operations for PG&E. "Under the CPUC's leadership, with PG&E's full support, the state has taken lessons learned from several independent investigations of the San Bruno tragedy and adopted new standards to help ensure that such an accident never happens again. Our multi-year plan to test, verify and upgrade the integrity of our gas transmission pipelines will meet those rigorous standards and help California lead the natural gas industry in pipeline safety."

Since the accident in San Bruno, PG&E has already taken several steps to make its system safer, including:

  • Increased leak surveys and patrols
  • Reduced pressure on some pipelines to increase the margin of safety
  • Working to ensure the operating pressures of all pipelines across the system are appropriate for their location
  • Pressure testing, replacing and conducting inline inspections on older pipelines
  • Created a separate unit for our gas operations under the new leadership of an expert with 30 years of experience in improving some of the nation's oldest gas systems
  • Hired more than 150 new employees and contracted with dozens of expert gas operations consulting firms
  • Improved our coordination with local emergency responders and launching a new online tool to let members of the public locate pipelines in their neighborhoods

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.

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