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PG&E Upgrades to Natural Gas System Helping to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

03/31/2015

Peer-Reviewed Study Shows Significant Decline in Methane Emissions

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) natural gas system contributed to the findings of a comprehensive, peer-reviewed study published online today in Environmental Science and Technology that confirms methane emissions from local natural gas systems have significantly decreased in the past 20 years, even as the system’s mileage has increased. Improvements made to the natural gas system are contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.

“We believe our goals to operate a safe and reliable local natural gas system and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across California are complementary. We are very pleased to see a significant reduction in methane emissions within our industry nationally and we are committed to building upon our best-in-class leak management performance at a local level,” said Nick Stavropoulos, executive vice president of Gas Operations at PG&E.

According to the study, methane emissions are 36 to 70 percent less than the 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s estimates. The dramatically lower emissions are attributed to upgrades at metering and regulating stations, improvements in leak detection and maintenance activities, regulatory changes regarding monitoring, measuring, reporting and repairing methane leaks and replacement of older pipeline materials.

“At PG&E we are leading the way in the use of cutting-edge leak detection technology to enhance the safe operations of our system. Not only have we completed our cast iron deactivation program throughout our service area, we are also using technology pioneered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs to locate leaks, and we are replacing or upgrading our metering and regulation stations,” said Stavropoulos.

As a part of PG&E’s commitment to improve the integrity of the gas system, crews are responding faster than ever to odor calls. In 2014, the company moved into the top 10 percent of utilities responding to gas odor calls and reduced its grade 2/2+ leak backlog by 99 percent in the past four years.

 
Odor-Call Response Time
Year         Average Time (In Minutes)
2010         33.3
2011         30.5
2012         26.4
2013         21.3
2014         19.9
       

Additionally, the company was recognized by the White House in its 2014 Climate Action Plan as one of the few gas utilities nationwide collaborating to address key technical and regulatory factors affecting methane emission reduction opportunities. PG&E was also the first utility in the country to test and deploy a sophisticated vehicle-mounted leak detection system, which is 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional equipment.

“The work we are doing at PG&E to address climate change is an integral part of our business and we are incredibly proud to be a part of an industry committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The results of the study demonstrate that we are doing the right work and making great strides as an industry,” concluded Stavropoulos.

Washington State University’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Research led the study to better understand methane emissions associated with the distribution of natural gas. According to the University, the study provides the most comprehensive set of direct emissions measurements from the distribution system. The work was led by Regents Professor Brian Lamb with support from the Environmental Defense Fund, major natural gas utilities, including PG&E, and engineering and environmental consulting firms.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.

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Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Stephanie Dell, 415-973-5930 (Media)

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