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PG&E to Build New CA Gas Transmission Pipeline to Storage

In the wake of the devastation left by the levee breaks in New Orleans, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Tuesday that it would accelerate work on a 6.2-mile, $30 million natural gas transmission pipeline project in the flood-prone Sacramento Delta area east of San Francisco Bay. The PG&E utility now hopes to have the pipeline link to its major underground storage field completed next fall.

Originally outlined in an Internet-based operations communications early in the summer, the new 24-inch-diameter pipeline is designed to bypass an area vulnerable to flooding in the event of a major levee failure, so the utility wants to have the project completed before the rainy season of winter 2006-07.

PG&E's utility spokesperson said the company recently completed an analysis that estimated an economic impact of up to $1 billion should the levee be breached resulting in the destruction of the existing pipeline link to its McDonald Island natural gas storage facility near Stockton, CA.

Permitting is expected to take much of the time between now and the completion target. PG&E said the California State Lands Commission will be the lead agency for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review. With what it called "timely" CEQA review and permitting, PG&E's utility transmission pipeline operators anticipate beginning construction next summer.

The new line -- essentially a spur from the storage field that reconnects with an existing pipeline beyond the area considered vulnerable to flooding -- will act as an added insurance policy for the utility's gas transmission backbone system, the utility spokesperson said.

Updates on future construction plans will be provided through the utility's Pipe Ranger Internet-based network.

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