CONCORD, Calif.—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will conduct aerial patrols of gas transmission pipelines in Alameda and Contra Costa counties from April 22 to 25. Residents may notice the low-flying helicopter at a height of 300 to 500 feet, which at times may hover.
In the East Bay, flights will be conducted in the Concord area, the Hayward area, from Concord to Richmond, from Concord to Oakland, and from Oakland to Hayward. Flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., including weekends.
PG&E conducts semi-annual aerial patrols of all its gas transmission pipelines in the interest of public safety and system integrity.
PG&E patrol crews, each consisting of a pilot and an observer. The observer uses a GPS-enabled tablet with GIS mapping data to navigate the pipelines right-of-ways, and document excavation and construction activity, or other observations that warrant follow-up.
Where appropriate, PG&E ground personnel are then sent to the identified areas to verify that safe practices are being followed. This includes confirming that 811 was called prior to excavating, so underground utility lines could be marked.
This inspection uses helicopters equipped with LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology to visually inspect gas transmission pipelines. A LIDAR device is installed on a helicopter to collect data by emitting an eye-safe laser towards the ground surface, which returns to the sensor immediately after hitting the object. An operator is present on every flight, controlling the system with a standard laptop interface and verifying the integrity of the data.
Damage from digging is a common cause of natural gas pipeline accidents. Dig-ins cause damage to underground gas, electric and telecommunications infrastructure, which is one of the most critical threats to public safety. Striking a gas line during excavation can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages to an entire neighborhood.
The 811 one-call service is free, and it’s a requirement of California digging laws.
PG&E, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.