For decades, fixing natural gas leaks has been a matter of priorities. The most significant leaks, of course, are fixed immediately. But much smaller leaks are typically scheduled to be repaired at a later date.
But a PG&E pilot project could be a game changer. The project capitalizes on an innovative leak-detection tool and mobilizes large numbers of PG&E gas workers concentrating on repairs in a specific area.
As this video story shows, PG&E has been testing the so-called SuperCrew approach to leak repairs in Oakland and Sacramento this year. The week-long effort starts with a sweep of an area using the Picarro car-mounted leak-detection technology. It’s 1,000 times more sensitive to leaks than other tools.
So far, the pilot project has been a success.
It combines all the workers who are part of the leak-management process — from leak surveyors to mapping specialists, to estimators to construction crews. And by using the state-of-the-art Picarro technology, more leaks are found and repaired.
As one example of the efficiency gains, 35,000 premises were surveyed for leaks in 17 business days. It would have taken four months or more to accomplish that using traditional survey methods. And the super-sized crews repaired more than 2,200 leaks.
“This could be a game-changer,” PG&E President Chris Johns said. “We are the only utility in the country doing this.”
Steve Redding, who heads the pilot project, describes it as a big deal. “I’ve been here almost 40 years. This is so exciting. Nobody else is doing this – that’s how big it is.”
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