PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2020

Plan of Reorganization Commitments

Gas Operations

At PG&E, we are dedicated to becoming the safest, most reliable gas operator in the country. We continue to upgrade our pipeline system and pioneer new gas leak detection technologies. We also maintain several international certifications for asset management and pipeline safety as we work to strengthen our operational performance.

PG&E strongly supports California’s climate and clean air goals, and our natural gas system has a role to play in decarbonization to help California achieve its goals at a reasonable cost. We also welcome the opportunity to avoid investments in new gas assets that might later prove underutilized as local governments and the state work together to realize long-term decarbonization objectives.

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 43,300 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 workforce 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 Lloyds 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.

2019 Milestones

Gas Transmission System

PG&E continues to invest in the safety and reliability of our gas transmission pipeline system. From 2011 to 2019, PG&E has achieved the following results:

  • Validated safe operating pressure by strength-testing 1,495 miles of gas pipeline.
  • Replaced 269 miles of gas transmission pipeline.
  • Automated 360 valves, enabling automatic or remote-control shutoff of gas in an emergency.
  • Retrofitted 1,316 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 from 2019 include:

  • Reducing the duration of open minor non-hazardous workable leaks to 96 days, exceeding our target of 150 days.
  • Responding to gas odor reports in an average of just over 20 minutes.
  • Replacing 863 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 360 automatic and remote shutoff valves during the 2011 to 2019 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.
  • Installed 2,907 SCADA visibility and control points on the gas transmission system and 4,314 SCADA visibility and control points on the gas distribution system to monitor pressure and flow.
  • Became certified as compliant with the American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice (API RP) 754 for Process Safety Performance Indicators.

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, 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 2019
Gas Odor Response Times
Average response time in minutes 33.3 20.8
Percent response within 60 minutes 94.4% 99.6%
SCADA Footnote 1 Visibility and Control Points
Transmission pressures and flows 1,300 2,907
Transmission control points 870 1,953
Distribution pressures and flows 290 4,314
Leak Backlog
Grade 2 open leak average duration Footnote 2 (Target: 150 days) N/A 96 days
Dig-In Reduction
Excavation damage per 1,000 excavation tickets 3.5 1.04
2010 2011–19
Gas Transmission
Miles of pipeline replaced 9 >269
Miles of pipeline strength tested 0 >1,495
Miles of pipeline made piggable 130 >1,316
Automated valves installed 0 360
Gas Distribution
Miles of main replaced Footnote 3 27 >863
  • 1. Supervisory control and data acquisition.1
  • 2. Grade 2 leaks are non-hazardous.2
  • 3. In 2014, all known remaining cast-iron pipe was decommissioned.3