SAN CARLOS -- Pacific Gas & Electric wants state regulators to permit an idled natural gas pipeline beneath San Carlos to go back into service following an independent expert's assessment that Line 147 is safe to resume full operations -- despite a thinner-than-expected wall for a section of the pipeline -- the utility said Friday.
The utility disclosed that a section of the 3.8-mile pipeline has thinner walls than previously reported to the state Public Utilities Commission. Despite that disclosure, PG&E's independent contractor believes the line can safely resume service.
PG&E took the gas pipe offline on Oct. 6 in response to concerns from a company engineer about its safety.
"Absolutely, Line 147 can go back into service," Sumeet Singh, PG&E's senior director of integrity management, said in an interview with this newspaper Friday. "We have submitted a recertification filing" with the state PUC.
The utility made the request after receiving a report from Ohio-based Kiefner & Associates, which provides pipeline engineering services.
The controversy over Line 147 comes amid nagging concerns about the safety of PG&E's natural gas system following the San Bruno explosion in 2010. PG&E conducted high-pressure tests in October 2011 that found Line 147 to be safe.
"The October 2011 hydrostatic pressure spike test confirmed the fitness for service of the pipeline for its maximum allowable operation pressure without a doubt," Michael Rosenfeld, chief engineer for Kiefner, stated in his report. A data review shows the line remains safe today, he said.
"It is good that PG&E is doing independent assessments, but they should be letting the PUC select the independent evaluator to conduct the tests," state Sen. Jerry Hill said Friday. "PG&E may be making things harder on themselves by doing this in a vacuum. This bypasses the PUC."
Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos.