Some Potrero residents became alarmed recently seeing a bunch of PG&E maintenance signs go up near 17th and Missouri, with parking prohibited along a whole side of the street starting last month. After the gas-main explosion in San Bruno last September, any such activity that calls attention to the location of underground gas mains is bound to make people jittery, and Potrero View quickly got someone from PG&E on the horn to figure out what was up.
"This is just part of annual maintenance," says PG&E spokesperson Katie Romans. "There is a regulator station underground at that location. If you think of natural gas pipelines like a highway, the transmission lines run at a higher pressure than the distribution lines that lead to homes. The regulator station steps down the pressure before the gas goes into the distribution line. PG&E conducts annual maintenance, which was supposed to take place in January. It is late this year. Also, we are doing the eight-year inspection at the same time, so this takes longer.”
PG&E has also missed their March deadline, imposed by the state Public Utilities Commission, to conduct tests to prove it was maintaining safe gas pressure levels, that there are no more bad welds in the pipes, and to prove there are no weak spots or leaks. These tests involve forcing water through the pipes at high pressure. Romans insists the testing doesn’t typically have “ any impact on customer service, except for parking.”