By Tracy Correa
BAKERSFIELD—PG&E crews on Tuesday (Sept. 18) worked alongside earth-moving equipment to replace a 1.03-mile stretch of underground gas transmission pipeline as cars whizzed by on White Lane in south Bakersfield. The work even attracted a few neighborhood residents who stopped by to watch the activity.
The work taking place in front of the Luis Burger restaurant near H Street—and similar work already completed in the area—is part of PG&E’s Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan. The proposed plan is a multi-phased approach the utility has taken to make sure its natural gas transmission pipeline system is one of the safest in the country.
On Tuesday, PG&E showed some of its local gas projects to Kern County media.
The project began in July in this Bakersfield neighborhood—dotted with fast-food restaurants, older homes and apartments—and will continue through the end of September. Area residents were notified in advance of the site work and invited to a neighborhood meeting where they could meet with PG&E representatives and ask questions.
The pipeline transmission line work is important, said Fred Fredericks, a PG&E customer impact specialist in Bakersfield: “It shows that PG&E is spending the dollars to upgrade the system. We are investing in our infrastructure to ensure that we deliver natural gas to customers safely.”
Since the work began in 2011, nearly 100 miles of pipeline in Kern County have been inspected or replaced. This includes 10 miles of pipeline hydro-tested, 3.5 miles of pipeline replaced and 80 miles inspected using smart-pig technology.
Gas service continuing during work
Next year, plans are to test, smart-pig or replace about 60 miles of pipeline in Kern County. Additional plans call for automated valve upgrades at seven locations. Automated valves can be operated remotely from the utility’s 24-hour gas control center and don’t require personnel on site. Last year, PG&E automated 29 valves in the San Francisco Peninsula and has proposed either automating, replacing or upgrading an additional 200 valves.
In most cases, gas service will continue without interruption during the replacement projects.
The Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan is PG&E’s road map to improving the safety of its gas transmission lines throughout northern and central California. It has several components including hydrostatic pressure testing, inline inspections (using smart pig technology) pipeline retrofits, pipeline replacements and valve replacement planned through 2014.
Together, these components are part of the ongoing gas-system improvements that have been made since the tragic accident in San Bruno in 2010. (In this video, PG&E President Chris Johns talks about some of those efforts.)
There are about 6,000 miles of transmission pipeline across Northern and Central California and PG&E has surveyed 3,928 miles to date in 2012.
Back on White Lane in Bakersfield, crews moved eastward as they proceeded to replace the 10-inch pipeline that dates back to 1969. The blazing Valley sun was out in full force.
There is a need to be transparent and let the customers know about the important work going on, said Fredericks.
To learn more about PG&E’s progress and pipeline safety, go to www.pge.com/progress. And for more information on natural gas safety, customers can visit www.pge.com/gas or call PG&E’s gas system helpline at 1-888-743-7431.
Email Tracy Correa at firstname.lastname@example.org.