Posted on January 26, 2015

VIDEO: PG&E Expands Partnership with Picarro as Next Phase of Industry-Leading Gas Leak Detection Strategy


SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E today (Jan. 26) announced the next phase in its ongoing plan to improve safety and reduce methane emissions from its gas system through an expanded strategic alliance with Silicon Valley-based Picarro Inc. PG&E and Picarro Inc. will collaborate to further optimize Picarro’s solution for integration into PG&E’s leak-management system and fleet of super-sensitive gas leak detection vehicles, drastically improving how the utility finds and analyzes gas leaks.

PG&E is using all available resources, such as super-sensitive, car-mounted technology to find, and then fix, leaks. (Currents Archive Photos.)

In 2012, PG&E became the first utility in the world to employ the vehicle-mounted Picarro SurveyorTM  instruments that are approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional leak detection equipment. Thanks to this technology, PG&E has been able to survey more of its service area, leading to a 99 percent reduction of minor, non-hazardous leaks on its system since 2010.  With this new strategic alliance, PG&E and Picarro Inc. will:

  • Develop revolutionary end-to-end gas leak management solutions that will integrate results from advanced leak detection vehicles into PG&E’s information systems enabling faster root cause analysis and repair.
  • Establish data collection processes to support predictive analytics to assess and mitigate risks to PG&E’s 70,000 miles of gas distribution infrastructure.
  • Improve the precision and accuracy of quantifying the volume of methane emissions associated with PG&E’s facilities.

“The Picarro technology has transformed our ability to find and then fix natural gas leaks on our system. We’ll build on our success and create the next generation of leak management capabilities for the industry by enhancing safety, improving quality and capturing efficiencies as well as reducing the impact on the environment,” said Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E’s executive vice president of Gas Operations.

Currently, PG&E has six vehicles mounted with the Picarro Surveyor, with plans to add four more by the end of 2015. For more than two years, the utility has trained its workforce on the testing and eventual deployment of the advanced leak detection vehicles across its 70,000 square mile service area. Now, the company is ready to expand the partnership with the technology innovator to gain an even better insight into its natural gas system.

By the end of 2015, PG&E will have 10 vehicles equipped with the Picarro Surveyor technology in use.

“PG&E has led the industry in the adoption of the Picarro solution. The partnership that we have with PG&E has enabled us to collectively revolutionize an established process that has been in place for decades allowing for enhanced safety while driving towards a more reliable and affordable energy future” said Alex Balkanski, Picarro’s president and CEO.

The Picarro Surveyor for natural gas leaks is the industry’s only leak detection solution that surveys mains and services at normal driving speeds to quickly identify likely leak locations and leak-free areas. The Picarro Surveyor combines a high-precision greenhouse gas analyzer with dedicated cloud-based processing algorithms. Its secure user interface provides a real-time view of the leak indications and survey coverage area, generating a data-driven audit trail. Hazardous leaks can be quickly identified, while virtually eliminating false positives. The leak source can be identified as biogenic methane or natural gas within minutes. The Picarro Surveyor is being used for compliance surveying, as well as for a growing list of non-compliance applications.

Email Currents at currents@pge.com.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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