Building a Safer Natural Gas System

Every day, millions of San Diego residents and businesses use more than 360 million cubic feet of natural gas to power their lives. At SDG&E, we believe that safety is the highest priority for our customers, employees and the communities we serve. As part of our mission to be the cleanest, safest, most reliable energy company in America, we have proposed to build a new, modern natural gas pipeline that will enhance the safety and resiliency of the entire natural gas system.

SDG&E filed an application to construct the Pipeline Safety & Reliability Project, a proposed 47-mile transmission pipeline from Rainbow to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar. This past week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held public meetings to provide information about the proposed project and let the public know how to provide comments before a draft environmental impact report is put together.

New pipeline safety regulations

In 2011, the California Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act required all natural gas transmission lines that were not pressure tested prior to being installed to be pressure tested or replaced. In response, SDG&E began conducting one of the largest safety enhancements of natural gas pipelines in the region’s history under the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP) approved by the CPUC in 2014. The goal of this effort is to further enhance safety by testing and replacing older sections of natural gas transmission pipelines, including Line 1600, which was constructed and put into service in 1949.The materials and technology used to construct Line 1600 nearly 70 years ago were not as robust as they are today. And, this vintage pipeline is older than 89 percent of the transmission pipelines operating in the United States.

While our proactive safety measures of this line – including lowering the operating pressure, conducting internal inspections, and increasing leak surveys and patrols – validate that Line 1600 is safe to operate today, these are interim steps.

Long-term solution

SDG&E is still required by law to pressure test or replace Line 1600. Replacing this vintage pipe with a new, modern pipeline and permanently lowering the operating pressure of Line 1600 to distribution level is a long-term solution that complies with pipeline safety laws and increases the reliability of San Diego’s natural gas transmission system. And, the new pipeline will be extremely safe; constructed with state-of-the-art features like fiber-optic technology and automatic shut-off valves.

If approved, the Pipeline Safety and Reliability Project will provide a safe, modern pipeline to serve San Diego and enhance the safety of the entire natural gas system so that we can continue to meet our customers’ energy needs for decades to come.

Click here to learn more about the project.