June 20, 2016
In the wake of the massive Aliso Canyon gas leak, which was plugged in February, state regulatory agencies are looking at a variety of ways to prevent future leaks. CARB, the CEC, and the California Public Utilities Commission held a joint symposium June 6–7 on methane emissions from California’s natural gas system. A week later, the CEC approved more than $5.5 million for projects to identify methane leaks and secure the state’s natural gas infrastructure.
At the symposium, CARB staff said they want to provide California-specific emission factors and expand opportunities to reduce methane emissions from sources that haven’t received much attention. CARB also wants to improve the state’s methane accounting, which staffers said has consistently underestimated emissions by 50 percent since the agency began monitoring methane in 2010.
“Research efforts are shedding new light on sources and solutions, but we are not done. Appropriate policy is being developed,” said presenter Jorn Herner, CARB’s branch chief of research, planning, administration, and emissions mitigation.
CEC Funding Projects to Prevent Future Leaks
Drawing from the Public Interest Energy Research Natural Gas Program, the CEC at its June 14 business meeting approved a $600,000 contract with NASA to identify the source of large fugitive methane emissions and to illustrate the impact of methane as a greenhouse gas. NASA will use advanced imaging technologies to survey California’s natural gas infrastructure. Recent state legislation mandated monitoring high-emission methane hot spots.
In response to a solicitation for proposals focused on natural gas pipeline safety and integrity technologies (GFO-15-506), the CEC awarded $3.7 million in PIER grants to the Gas Technology Institute. The three projects covered will look at the current states of pipelines, create pipeline maps, and demonstrate a notification system to reduce the risk of third-party damage to the pipeline infrastructure. In addition, Det Norske Veritas won a grant to demonstrate an advanced risk assessment methodology for managing the integrity of pipelines in the state. The project will also help assess corrosion and mechanical damage threats.
Finally, the CEC approved almost $1.5 million in additional PIER grants to the University of California, Irvine, and University of California, Santa Cruz, to determine how to reduce regional natural gas systems’ vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather.CARB, CEC, CPUC, methane, PIER grants
Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission