PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2021

COVID-19 Response

Gas Operations

At PG&E, we are dedicated to safely and reliably delivering clean and affordable natural gas to the four million customers we are privileged to serve. To meet this objective, we design, build, maintain and operate a safe and state-of-the-art natural gas system—and have earned first quartile industry performance in gas emergency response and the rate of total dig-ins.

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 50,000 miles of natural gas pipeline. The system includes 43,500 miles of distribution main 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 nine 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 are continuously improving as part of our commitment to 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.

2020 Milestones

Gas Transmission System

PG&E continues to invest in the safety and reliability of our gas transmission pipeline system. From 2011 to 2020, we achieved the following results:

  • Validated safe operating pressure by strength-testing 1,534 miles of gas pipeline.
  • Replaced 272 miles of gas transmission pipeline.
  • Automated 381 valves, enabling automatic or remote-control shutoff of gas in an emergency.
  • Retrofitted 1,780 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 2020 include:

  • Reducing the duration of open minor non-hazardous workable leaks to 92 days, exceeding our target of 150 days.
  • Responding to gas odor reports in an average of just over 20 minutes.
  • Replacing 994 miles of gas main.

Embedding Public Safety into our Operating System

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

  • Installed 381 automatic and remote shutoff valves between 2011 and 2020. 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.
  • Increased our ability to conduct in-line inspections to roughly 43% of the approximately 6,600 miles of our gas transmission system.
  • Experienced 1.05 third-party dig-ins per 1,000 Underground Service Alert (USA) tickets, outperforming our 2020 target of 1.44 total dig-ins per 1,000 tickets.
  • Achieved an open rate for Grade 2 leaks of 92 days, exceeding our target of less than 150 days.

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 the Utility’s progress as appropriate and acceptable. Our gas system progress is detailed in the table below.

Gas System Progress
2010 2020
Gas Odor Response Times
Average response time in minutes 33.3 20.5
Percent response within 60 minutes 94.4% 99.6%
SCADA Footnote 1 Visibility and Control Points
Transmission pressures and flows 1,300 2,569
Transmission control points 870 963
Distribution pressures and flows 290 4,147
Leak Backlog
Grade 2 open leak average duration Footnote 2 (Target: 150 days) N/A 92 days
Dig-In Reduction
Excavation damage per 1,000 excavation tickets 3.5 1.05
2010 2011–20
Gas Transmission
Miles of pipeline replaced 9 >272
Miles of pipeline strength tested 0 >1,534
Miles of pipeline made piggable 130 >1,780
Automated valves installed 0 381
Gas Distribution
Miles of main replaced Footnote 3 27 994
  • 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