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Posted on August 11, 2017

PG&E Opens New Center for Gas Safety and Innovation

By David Kligman and Melissa Subbotin

DUBLIN — PG&E today (Aug. 11) opened its new Center for Gas Safety and Innovation, another significant milestone in the energy company’s efforts to provide customers with safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy.

PG&E's Sumeet Singh cuts a ribbon to mark the opening of the new Center for Gas Safety and Innovation. (Photos by David Kligman.)

The facility, located in this Alameda County city east of San Francisco, includes workspace and a lab that’s home to three groups within PG&E’s Gas Operations division. The teams will use some of the industry’s most advanced tools, testing capabilities and lab resources to ensure the safe operation of its gas system.

The center is the second of three new PG&E facilities to support its gas system. The company’s Gas Control Center opened in 2013 in San Ramon (Contra Costa County) and its Gas Safety Academy is expected to open in late September in in Winters (Yolo County).

The grand opening coincided with National Safe Digging Day, which is observed across the nation each year to remind homeowners and contractors to always call 811 two business days before any digging project, large or small.

Michael Lane, a distribution specialist, explains how a hydraulic fusion machine, which may soon provide the opportunity to remotely monitor pipeline fuses.

A host of city and county leaders were among those who attended and toured the center. They were welcomed by company leaders, including PG&E Corporation CEO and President Geisha Williams who said the facility is a prime example of PG&E delivering its commitment to safety.

PG&E’s Sumeet Singh, vice president of Gas Portfolio Management and Engineering, then spoke of the innovation that’s happening at the center.

“We strive to be at the leading edge of developing new methods and technologies that combine to enhance safety and reliability of our gas infrastructure,” Singh said. “This new facility is mission critical to these goals. For the first time, three key work groups will be working in close proximity with expanded lab space that will enable them to take their testing and evaluation to the next level.”

Stephen Simon demonstrates a device, similar to an ultrasound, that shows defects in steel pipeline.

Following the remarks, PG&E presented a $10,000 check to the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group, an organization seeking to bring innovative companies to the cities of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon. Dale Kaye, the group’s CEO, lauded PG&E’s safety mission.

“Companies that focus on safety are heroes in this ecosystem,” she said.

Singh then cut a ribbon to represent the opening of the center and then led tours of the 25,000-square-foot facility.

These are the teams that will work from the Center for Gas Safety and Innovation:

  • The Methods and Procedures group consists of engineers and specialists responsible for creating and revising PG&E’s gas guidance documents, tools and equipment to ensure the operations of the gas system meet or exceed regulatory requirements. This team works with manufacturers to find and test new products and processes, including benchmarking with other gas companies.
  • The Measure and Control Test Lab oversees the testing, evaluation and implementation of measurement and control device systems used on the PG&E gas pipeline system. Their findings provide guidance and support for gas control technicians and engineers working on the gas system. The team also provides support for project and operational needs.
  • The Non-destructive Examination team evaluates the structural integrity of PG&E’s pipeline facilities by conducting inspections, calibrations, testing and training. This helps ensure asset integrity on both gas distribution and transmission facilities throughout PG&E’s gas service territory.

Donna Kerger was among those who attended the grand opening. She is involved in finding a permanent home for the Valley Children’s Museum and was impressed with the gas demonstrations. She said children would benefit from learning about all that goes into providing safe, reliable energy to their homes.

The interior of the center has many images that show PG&E's commitment to providing safe gas work.

“Not that many people know about the pipes in the ground,” she said. “This would be a way for kids to visualize that.”

For the roughly 30 employees who work at the center, they said the open areas made collaboration easier. Before the center opened, they would have to find space anywhere they could.

“It really gives us the tools and infrastructure we need to truly innovate new techniques for the field,” said quality control manager Stephen Simon, who demonstrated a device similar to an ultrasound found in a hospital that shows defects in steel pipe. “And it give us the space we need to test in a safe and reliable way.”

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