PG&E to conduct helicopter patrols in Napa County

PG&E to conduct helicopter patrols in Napa County

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The logo for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. PG&E lost half its value after the troubled California utility, which faces huge liabilities over the state's deadly wildfires, said it would file for bankruptcy protection. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Starting Monday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company will conduct routine low-level helicopter patrols to inspect gas transmission lines in Napa County as part of its leak survey and maintenance program.

A helicopter will fly over lines located in the outskirts of Napa through April 30. Flights will be coming and going from the Napa County Airport and the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.

PG&E patrols remote gas lines, which are often located in rural areas, by helicopter as part of its continuing effort to ensure the safety and reliability of its natural gas system. If issues or obstructions are identified, it is possible helicopters may need to fly at a lower altitude for additional inspections.

Using LIDAR-based equipment, PG&E crews are combining the use of state-of-the-art leak detection technology with a streamlined repair process to find and fix leaks faster, the utility said in a news release.

A spotter in the helicopter also uses a GPS-enabled tablet with mapping data to navigate the pipelines and document excavation and construction activity, or other observations that warrant follow-up.

Where appropriate, PG&E ground personnel are sent to construction areas to verify that safe digging practices are being followed. This includes confirming the use of a valid 811 ticket for proper marking of underground utility lines that help prevent the gas line from being hit.

PG&E would like to remind its customers to call 811 or visit www.usanorth811.org before starting outdoor projects where dirt us moved. Contractors with projects of all sizes are required by California Government Code 4216 to call 811 to have underground lines marked before digging, including contractors hired by a homeowner.

Strikes to underground lines is a public safety risk, causing damage and possibly injury. 

Weather permitting, flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PG&E will fly in a contracted helicopter, likely a Bell 206B3 Long Ranger that is blue and white. Pilots will fly between 300 and 500 feet when conducting inspections.

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