Natural gas infrastructure improvements are critical to ensuring the safety and reliability of our gas system. While these capital construction projects may not always be convenient for our customers, they are necessary to maintain system integrity, and our teams work hard to minimize the impact to our customer and communities.
In the Q&A below, Jorge Cordova, Gas Construction Manager, shares more about the importance of these projects and our efforts to make the process as easy as possible for our customers.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey? How long have you been with SDG&E?
I have been with SDG&E for about 22 years, and I started with the company as a field collector. After three years in that role, I transitioned into the Customer Service Field department (CSF) where I worked in the field as a Service Technician, working my way up to Area Manager. I was offered an excellent opportunity to come over to Gas Capital Construction as a Gas Construction Manager and I have truly enjoyed the transition. In my current role, I am responsible for ensuring that our gas capital construction projects are completed safely and efficiently, working directly with our internal crews and contractors. I am passionate about supporting our team and providing great service to our customers. It is a gratifying feeling when we complete our projects safely, and with minimal impact to our customers.
Why is it so important for us to make improvements to our natural gas infrastructure?
The number one reason is for the safety of our employees and customers. Providing safe and reliable service to our customers is the top priority for our department and company. A key component to accomplishing this is to identify potential risks to our gas distribution pipelines and developing mitigating measures to eliminate these risks. Our gas construction projects fall under these mitigating measures and truly improve our natural gas infrastructure for the communities we serve.
What benefits do these projects bring to our customers and communities?
These improvements contribute toward a safe gas distribution system which is extremely important for all of us as a community. A biproduct of these projects, which I see as a benefit, is it allows our communities to have direct interaction with our team members out in the field. Our customers then have an opportunity to see and experience the skills and professionalism that our crews exhibit day in and day out. This onsite interaction provides our customers with the chance to ask any questions related to the project or anything else related to SDG&E. Our team members are always professional and do what they can to help our customers.
Can you tell us a bit about the construction process on these projects?
The construction process related to these projects can be complex and comprehensive consisting of many different phases. Every job starts with us communicating with our customers prior to us breaking ground on a project. This communication is continuous throughout the life of the project to ensure our customers remain informed. The construction process involves heavy equipment, excavation, traffic control and many moving parts to move the project along safely.
What are some of the ways that we reach out to customers to let them know about construction work in their communities?
There are multiple ways that we communicate with our customers. Prior to the start of any of our construction projects, we mail out communication letters to all customers in the impacted areas and notify them of the projected work that will be taking place in their community. We provide them with a high-level overview of the type of work that will be performed, along with a direct contact in the case further information is needed. Our crews also have direct communication with our customers during the project and make a concerted effort to speak to or notify all customers prior to performing any work on their property.
For our construction projects, we always try to leave things better than we found it. Do you have any positive stories to share from any projects in particular?
We understand that these types of projects may sometimes be invasive to our customers. We do our best to choose construction methods which minimizes the impact to our customers and their communities. We make every effort to ensure that their communities are restored to their original conditions or better. It is imperative that we make a positive impact on our customers.
One example was related to one of our projects in San Marcos where we ran a new gas service to a customer’s home. There were no issues with the installation or the project, but the customer called us a couple of weeks later concerned about a broken sprinkler line that she claimed was damaged by our crew during construction. We investigated the issue, and the broken sprinkler line was nowhere near the area we worked in. Acting in good faith and to ensure we were keeping positive relationships flowing with our customers, we repaired the broken sprinkler line for this customer and thanked them for their patience during the construction process. The customer was extremely satisfied and appreciated SDG&E for making the extra effort.