Reducing methane emissions by 40 percent by 2030
California utilities finally have a set of plans to cut methane leakage from the state’s natural gas pipelines. Methane leakage has been an ongoing serious environmental and safety issue that affects the supply of natural gas. Even before the Aliso Canyon disaster attracted nationwide attention, California passed a law (SB 1371) requiring public utilities to reduce natural gas emissions. Last June, the California Public Utilities Commissioned ruled utilities must adopt plans that implement best practices (See Appendix B) to reduce methane emissions.
- Set targets to go along with the State’s methane goals – Currently none of the plans show a clear path to the state’s mandate of reducing methane emissions by 40% by 2030. Southwest Gas propose to only reduce emissions by less than 1 percent. PG&E and Southern California Gas – the two largest emitters of methane show reductions of 18-19%
- Better Identification tracking of leaks – Work on execution of best practices. Utility companies can make sure they are training their staff to easily identify methane leaks. In addition to improving tracking and mapping of problem areas.
- Invest in advanced methane detection technology – Mobile surveys though vans, drones, and aerial imaging can supplement traditional walking surveys with handheld monitors.
- Super Emitters a Priority – Studies indicate a small number of large leaks contribute disproportionately to natural gas emissions, even when not considered a safety hazard.
These plans will set the stage for the next 12 years and it is important that we get this right. Working with the CPUC they must ensure that utilities do better job staying on top of leaks and mitigating risk.