PG&E officials have responded to Palo Alto City Manager James Keene's deadline of Thursday (Sept. 23) for accurate, detailed information on its gas mains running through the city.
Keene told the Weekly that PG&E officials called him early Wednesday afternoon to arrange a meeting on the subject.
He also objected to PG&E's misinformation about there being no PG&E pipelines in Palo Alto for the first two days after the deadly San Bruno explosion and fire.
Stanford University officials also are seeking information about why a section of gas main through the campus is on a "Top 100" list of high-risk lines.
In a letter dated Monday (Sept. 20), Keene asked for a current map so Palo Alto Utilities workers can inform customers where PG&E lines lie in relation to their properties.
The city requested the following information:
■ A current map with precise locations of all PG&E high-pressure gas lines and other natural-gas facilities in Palo Alto, to be mailed by Sept. 23.
■ Updated information on the condition of the city's PG&E natural gas facilities.
■ Whether there are any high-risk gas-transmission facilities related to public safety in Palo Alto and where they are located.
■ Age of the pipelines and facilities.
■ Size of the pipelines.
■ Pressure at which PG&E typically operated the facilities.
■ Whether PG&E has reduced the operating pressure recently. And what is the current operating pressure.
■ Scope and date of PG&E's most recent pipeline maintenance activities.
■ Frequency and nature of maintenance activities for all of PG&E natural-gas facilities in the city.
In his letter, Keene also expressed grave concerns about misinformation from PG&E regarding the existence of pipelines in the city:
"In the confusion following last week's tragedy, we were quite shocked that numerous PG&E employees ... provided erroneous information to our local news media about whether there are PG&E transmission lines in Palo Alto. Over a two-day period last week, PG&E employees stated that PG&E does not operate any high-pressure natural gas transmission lines in Palo Alto.
"This placed the city in a very difficult position with our community and with elected officials and the media. When PG&E did not promptly correct the misinformation, our own utility staff publicly confirmed that there are PG&E transmission lines in Palo Alto," he wrote.
Online maps from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration showing locations of pipelines, which were widely publicized by the media, were not up-to-date, based on information that city staff currently possesses, Keene said.
Stanford University officials similarly expressed concern Tuesday, following the disclosure that a 1-mile segment of PG&E pipeline along Junipero Serra Boulevard is on PG&E's "Top 100" list of segments with greatest potential risk.
Stanford has requested a meeting with PG&E officials, which was planned for late this week, Larry Gibbs, associate vice provost for environmental health and safety, told the Stanford Report on Tuesday.
A stretch of the 22-inch-diameter pipeline, Line 109, is at risk of corrosion, according to the PG&E report. Gibbs told the Stanford Report that PG&E monitors the pipeline both electronically and physically every two months.
"We will be working to better understand what work has been done on the pipeline, what will be done to ensure continued integrity of the pipeline and why the segments remain on PG&E's 'Top 100' list if no further action is contemplated at this time," he said.
Stanford has three pipelines on its land, buried about 4 feet deep, Gibbs noted. Lines 109 and 132 run down the Peninsula along Junipero Serra Boulevard and Interstate 280, and Line 203-01, a 10-inch pipeline, connects to Line 109 and runs along Campus Drive West to the Cardinal Cogeneration facility on campus.
Larger transmission lines such as Line 109 (22 inches in diameter) and Line 132 (24 inches in diameter) operate from 100 to 400 pounds of pressure per square inch, Palo Alto officials said.
Smaller pipes in the city distribute 25 pounds of pressure per square inch or less and are 2 to 12 inches in diameter, they said.
Palo Alto also has a 20-inch-diameter PG&E conduit laid roughly along U.S. Highway 101.
Palo Alto owns and operates its own natural-gas distribution system and receives gas from PG&E transmission stations at four points of interconnection.
PG&E has publicly denied that its Top 100 list represents projects that are priorities for replacement or upgrade for public-safety reasons.
PG&E immediately fixes any pipeline or facility deemed a public risk, President Christopher Johns said during a news conference Monday.
Some larger projects loom for the utility, however.
PG&E can't optimally assess what is going on inside some of its pipe; age and twists and turns in the segments have impeded inspections with high-tech scoping tools (called "pigging") that look for pits, corrosion and other anomalies, according to a 2011 gas-transmission rate-case report PG&E filed with the California Public Utilities Commission.
A 43.5-mile stretch of Line 109 and a 31.9-mile stretch of Line 132 -- which run through Palo Alto, Mountain View and Menlo Park -- are scheduled for retrofitting and segment-replacements in 2012 and 2013, according to the rate-case report.
PG&E plans to spend $13 million to retrofit and $1 million to repair Line 132 in 2012 and would conduct "pigging" in 2013; $12.6 million is planned for retrofits to Line 109 and $1 million for repairs, with "pigging "in 2014, according to the report.
Two sections comprising 33.8 miles of a third gas-transmission line, Line 101, are also scheduled for similar repairs in 2014 and inspection in 2015, according to the rate-case report.
The exact location of segments to be retrofitted has not been disclosed.