Rick Phillips, senior director of the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan for SoCalGas
December 12, 2018

Modernizing Pipeline System Enhances Safety for Customers

The safety of customers, communities and employees is an inherent part of the culture at the Sempra Energy family of companies.

The Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP) is one way the teams at San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and SoCalGas are working to ensure the safety of their customers by modernizing natural gas transmission pipelines in the communities they serve.

In a Q&A below, Rick Phillips, senior director of the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan for SoCalGas, provides an update on the multi-year project and explains the importance of modernizing the 117,000-mile network of pipelines.

Q: What is the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP)?

A: I take a great amount of pride in the work our crews are doing to modernize the natural gas system to help ensure that our customers can safely and reliably access the natural gas they prefer to use for heating, cooking and more.

The Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan is an ongoing multi-billion-dollar program that tests and updates the natural gas pipeline infrastructure in Southern California for both SoCalGas and SDG&E.

As part of the program, SoCalGas and SDG&E are pressure-testing, repairing and, in some cases, replacing natural gas transmission pipelines in their 117,000-mile network.

Q: What does pipeline testing and replacing entail?

A: PSEP involves hydrostatic pressure testing, valve upgrades and replacements, and pipeline replacements.

Hydrostatic pressure testing assesses pipeline integrity by using water to exert pressure on a pipeline at much higher levels than its usual operating pressure to see if there are any leaks.

Pipeline valves control the flow of natural gas through the pipelines and are one of the key safety components involved in the testing, maintenance and everyday operational activities of our pipelines. Natural gas valve replacement is one of the many ways that we maintain the safety and integrity of our natural gas pipeline system.

Sometimes natural gas pipelines need to be replaced to meet expanding customer or natural gas system needs, as well as to accommodate infrastructure improvement projects of cities, counties and state agencies.

Q: What is the importance of this initiative? Why is it needed?

A: First and foremost is always the safety of our customers and the communities we serve, and this program directly enhances public safety. The program also enhances energy reliability for customers by ensuring that all pipelines are tested and modernized.

Q: How is PSEP progressing? What is the next step?

A: Since the project began in 2013, we’ve tested or replaced about 200 miles of natural gas pipeline, completing the first phase of the project.

We’re now starting the next phase, which includes the testing or replacing of approximately 800 miles of pipeline in less populated areas of our service area.

Additionally, the planning for replacement and testing of a 50-mile SDG&E line, Line 1600, will begin soon.

Photo (above): Rick Phillips, senior director of the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan for SoCalGas