PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2018

PG&E Chapter 11 Update

Gas Operations

It is our fundamental responsibility to design, build, maintain and operate our gas system to keep customers and communities safe. PG&E continues to upgrade our pipeline system, implement cutting-edge technologies and maintain multiple international certifications for asset management and pipeline safety as we work to strengthen our operational performance.

Our Approach

As the owner and operator of one of the largest natural gas systems in the United States, PG&E is responsible for an integrated transmission, storage and distribution system that consists of approximately 42,800 miles of distribution pipeline (as well as additional mileage associated with individual gas services), 6,600 miles of backbone and local transmission pipeline and three gas storage facilities. The system also includes eight natural gas compressor stations, which receive and move natural gas through our pipeline network.

Our focus remains on maintaining and operating this system safely and reliably, with public and employee safety as the single most important driver of our work. While we have made progress in key safety areas, we realize there is more to do to demonstrate our commitment and progress toward gas safety excellence.

To verify that progress, we benchmark against other leading companies and seek third-party certification, which requires an extensive audit process led by Lloyd’s Register. In addition, our safety management system provides the structure to systematically manage and maintain operational excellence in asset management, safety culture and process safety, with a commitment to continuous improvement and in compliance with best-in-class industry standards.

2018 Milestones

Gas Transmission System

PG&E continues to invest in the safety and reliability of our gas transmission pipeline system. Since 2011, PG&E has achieved the following results through 2018:

  • Validated safe operating pressure by strength-testing more than 1,380 miles of gas pipeline.
  • Replaced more than 265 miles of gas transmission pipeline.
  • Automated 337 valves, enabling automatic or remote-control shutoff of gas in an emergency.
  • Retrofitted more than 1,070 miles of gas transmission lines to accommodate in-line inspection tools, or “smart pigs,” which are used to inspect the condition of pipelines using sophisticated technology.

Gas Distribution System

We continue to improve the safety and reliability of PG&E’s gas distribution system through enhancements to leak response and repair, the deployment of new tools and technologies, and an overhaul of our approach to records and information management.

PG&E uses a diverse array of state-of-the-art tools to survey and inspect our gas infrastructure by air, land and water. Crews use handheld devices, aircraft equipped with LiDAR technology, leak-detecting cars, boats and all-terrain-vehicles to help identify leaks and make repairs when needed.

We use the Picarro Surveyor™ as a detection vehicle, which is one of the most sensitive methane-detection technologies available, measuring methane in parts per billion. Since 2014, PG&E’s Picarro gas leak survey vehicles have enabled us to quickly identify leaks and prioritize them for repair.

Other highlights 2018 include:

  • Reducing the backlog of minor non-hazardous workable leaks by 99.6 percent—down from about 12,200 in 2010.
  • Responding to gas odor reports in an average of just over 20 minutes.
  • Replacing over 750 miles of gas main.

PG&E is also improving the quality of, and access to, our gas distribution records by using a Geographical Information System (GIS). This system allows PG&E to more comprehensively map, reconcile and analyze data associated with our distribution assets. In addition, our Enterprise Records and Information Management program focuses on the deployment of consistent, integrated processes that support records development associated with operational safety, regulatory compliance and knowledge management.

Embedding Public Safety into our Operating System

PG&E has incorporated numerous public safety measures into our operational goals and plans. Examples include:

  • Installed 337 automatic and remote shutoff valves during the 2011 to 2018 timeframe. Among the critical investments we’ve made to enhance the safety of our gas infrastructure, automatic and remote shutoff valves on our transmission pipelines quickly turn off gas in case of emergencies or natural disasters.
  • Made significant progress to enhance the safe operation of our gas infrastructure. Starting in 2011, we have validated safe operating pressure by strength-testing more than 1,380 miles of gas pipeline, replaced more than 265 miles of gas transmission pipeline and retrofitted more than 1,070 miles of gas transmission lines to accommodate in-line inspection tools.
  • Continued our certification to the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 55/International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 55001 standards for best-in-class asset management.
  • Received successful recertification as compliant with the American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice (API RP) 1173, Pipeline Safety Management Systems. In 2015, Pacific Gas and Electric Company became the first company in the U.S. to receive compliance for this industry standard.
  • Continued our certification to Responsible Care® 14001, a standard issued through the American Chemistry Council for safety, health and environmental management; process safety; product safety; and security.

Measuring Progress

PG&E has met 11 of the 12 safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the San Bruno accident. We are focused on safely and responsibly completing the final recommendation in 2019, which includes strength-testing natural gas transmission lines. It is currently in “open-acceptable response” status, indicating that the NTSB regards PG&E’s progress as appropriate and acceptable. Our gas system progress is detailed in the table below.

Gas System Progress
2010 2018
Gas Odor Response Times
Average response time in minutes 33.3 20.6
Percent response within 60 minutes 94.4% 99.6%
SCADA Footnote 1 Visibility and Control Points
Transmission pressures and flows 1,300 2,666
Transmission control points 870 1,783
Distribution pressures and flows 290 4,114
Leak Backlog
Open Grade 2 and 2+ leak indications Footnote 2 12,203 239
Dig-In Reduction
Excavation damage per 1,000 excavation tickets 3.5 1.61
2010 2011–18
Gas Transmission
Miles of pipeline replaced 9 >265
Miles of pipeline hydrotested 0 >1,380
Miles of pipeline made piggable 130 >1,071
Automated valves installed 0 337
Percent of system with GPS centerline data Footnote 3 0% 100%
Gas Distribution
Miles of main replaced Footnote 4 27 >760
  • 1. Supervisory control and data acquisition.1
  • 2. Grade 2 and 2+ leaks are minor and non-hazardous. 2
  • 3. GPS survey was completed for 100% of the accessible transmission pipeline system using highly precise mapping tools.3
  • 4. In 2014, all known remaining cast-iron pipe was decommissioned.4