There are numerous reasons for this. Chief among them are the state’s historic roll in addressing environmental concerns, and the experience of manmade disasters, such as the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion.
Fallout from the San Bruno blast resulted in the 2014 adoption of UWUA–sponsored legislation requiring the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to reduce methane leakage from gas pipelines. In order to accomplish this, legislators saw the need to give utility workers a seat at the table in developing best practices to cut emissions, and protect workers and the public.
To have the greatest impact, utility workers from around the state are meeting regularly. Most recently, UWUA Locals 132, 483, and 522 successfully organized the third annual Joint Union Gas Conference in Palm Springs. The conference is a partnership of the UWUA, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 1245 and 465, and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers Local 20. These locals represent the workforces of SoCalGas, Pacific Gas and Electric, and San Diego Gas and Electric.
The conference brought together experts from different job classifications, and participants came to a consensus on the most effective ways to reduce methane emissions by establishing best practices amongst the different locals.
Some examples of best practices include: distribution leak surveys, pipeline patrols, leakage repair schedules, valve maintenance, transmission blowdowns, compressor station upgrades, cathodic protection enhancements, superior mapping and planning strategies and the list goes on.
The group’s recommendations are now being presented to the CPUC. It is hoped that a final CPUC ruling will include the group’s proposed best practices to ensure a more responsive and comprehensive approach to gas work.