SAN FRANCISCO, July 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) began training five employees to use state-of-the-art gas leak detecting vehicles, which will be deployed in Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Hayward and Concord over the next few weeks. PG&E is the first utility in the world to roll out the vehicle-mounted detection technology – manufactured by Picarro, Inc. – that is 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional leak detection equipment.
Delivering on PG&E's commitment to strengthen pipeline safety for customers and employees, select employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are undergoing specialized training to operate the technology at PG&E's Livermore Training facility. PG&E worked closely with IBEW to develop a training plan.
"We at Local 1245 are proud that PG&E employees are leading the industry in operating these vehicles and we look forward to detecting and fixing leaks more efficiently than ever before," said Mike Scafani, a 35-year PG&E employee in Gas Operations and IBEW Shop Steward.PG&E's leak-detecting vehicles can distinguish between natural gas leaks from PG&E pipelines and naturally occurring methane in less than 10 minutes—a process that can take as long as a week using traditional tools. "These new vehicles added to our fleet allow us to conduct more frequent and comprehensive leak surveys, which is a critical step in our effort to become the safest, most reliable gas system in the nation," said Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E's executive vice president of Gas Operations. "We know that it's not enough to just tell customers that we're improving the safety of the system, so I'm proud that people can see our progress in their own communities." The utility started testing two vehicle prototypes in early 2012 and commissioned four more this year.