By Debbie Felix
At the White House today (July 29), PG&E Executive Vice President Nick Stavropoulos outlined the company’s actions to concurrently enhance public safety, protect the environment and create jobs.
PG&E and leaders from other natural gas companies gathered to talk about what utilities can do to help reduce methane emissions and curb climate change. The meeting was hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and members of the Obama administration.
During today’s White House meeting, Stavropoulos laid out the company’s priorities, including plans to complete a system-wide replacement of cast iron pipe by the end of 2014, reach near-zero leaks in the backlog by the end of 2014 and double service replacements by 2015.
In recent years, PG&E – which operates the second-largest gas transmission and distribution system in the country – has made significant progress in finding and fixing natural gas leaks on its 80,000-mile transmission and distribution gas system, including a 99 percent reduction in non-hazardous leaks in its backlog last year. PG&E was the first utility in the country to test and deploy the industry’s most sophisticated car-mounted leak detection system, which is a 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional equipment. PG&E’s “SuperCrews” now are able to find 80 percent more leaks using this device, and the company is responding by accelerating repairs and increasing pipe replacement.
Stavropoulos also discussed the importance of building a skilled workforce, in order to meet these commitments. As a major employer in California with more than 20,000 employees, PG&E is also stepping up efforts to recruit military veterans through its signature PowerPathway™ workforce training program. The program, recognized by President Obama earlier this year, is focused on finding a place to apply the leadership skills and experiences U.S. veterans learned in the military.
Stavropoulos told the gathered participants that PG&E crews are finding and fixing leaks faster than ever before. “Any time we can work together to reduce our impact on the environment, it’s better for our customers and the communities we serve,” he said. “PG&E shares the industry’s deep interest in continuing the declining trend in emissions from our pipeline network.”
The White House, in its Climate Action Plan released on March 28, 2014, credited PG&E with being one of a few select gas utilities nationwide “collaborating to address key technical and regulatory factors affecting methane emission reduction opportunities from natural gas distribution systems.”
PG&E is one of five members of the Natural Gas Downstream Initiative, which is focusing on reducing methane leaks by encouraging investments in infrastructure, modernizing gas systems and using next generation technologies. On the research side, PG&E is also partnering with other gas utilities and the American Gas Association in a nationwide study by the Environmental Defense Fund and Washington State University to measure gas emissions from distribution pipelines.
PG&E has implemented one of the most comprehensive gas pipeline modernization programs in the nation and recently earned two prestigious international safety-focused asset management certifications for its gas operations. PG&E is one of the first utilities in the world to hold both the International Organization for Standardization and Publicly Available Specification certifications.
PG&E’s See Our Progress website details some of the company’s accomplishments.
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