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CPS Energy’s new watchdog sniffs out gas leaks
By Sam Taylor on March 19, 2018
Dogs can sense danger and protect their owners at a moment’s notice. The same goes for Gaston, a new vehicle in our fleet, equipped with revolutionary technology that can make neighborhoods safer by sniffing out gas leaks. Gaston, the “Smart Sniffer”, will allow us to serve our customers faster, safer and more efficiently. Today, CPS Energy and District 7 San Antonio Councilwoman, Ana Sandoval, unveiled the newly-acquired technology that will improve reliability in Greater San Antonio.
“The reliability of our systems and safety of our community is always a priority,” said CPS Energy President & CEO Paula Gold-Williams. “Early detection of needed system maintenance will help us enhance public safety while also improving reliability. Specifically, the Smart Sniffer will allow us to optimize predictive analysis tools and information for the benefit of our entire metropolitan community. Additionally, we will introduce the Smart Sniffer to local schools so children can become familiar with concepts of new technology that are helping us improve our operations and community environment at the same time.”
Early detection also helps minimize the amount of methane released in our environment, improving air quality. There’s also less of an environmental impact as a CPS Energy employee operating the Smart Sniffer can cover a large area, reducing the amount of additional vehicles and employees in the field.
“Launching the Smart Sniffer vehicle is exciting because it demonstrates the implementation of a proactive measure to reduce greenhouse gas as we work toward a more formal Climate Action and Adaptation plan,” said District 7 San Antonio City Councilwoman Ana Sandoval. “It reduces pollution, saves money and protects our health.”
Gaston has a nose for safety, protecting the environment and cost savings. Here’s a close look at the tech that’s making it all possible.
The “sniffing” technology is equipped on a 2017 Ford Explorer and will be driven throughout the community on a daily basis. The Smart Sniffer, developed by Picarro, combines sophisticated laser technology with the ability to cover 40 miles of the city in an hour. The system is capable of producing analytics that our Gas Delivery team can use to immediately pinpoint any areas of concern throughout their 5,415 miles of infrastructure and mitigate the potential risk of escaping natural gas.
“Typically, when we’re called out to a gas complaint, we have to use handheld equipment to literally walk over the area to detect the location of a gas leak,” said Joel Settles, Manager of Leak Survey and Locating Services. “The new vehicle will essentially give us a more pinpointed direction to search for a leak. It will reduce the area that basically needs to be covered by a gas technician.”
In addition to protecting customers and the environment, Gaston also will fetch some savings. Quicker inspections and less resources required for the routine work will help us reduce vehicle maintenance and man hours to complete jobs. Click here for the news release to learn more.
The innovative solution better equips our already-stellar Gas Delivery team to safely manage and maintain our current natural gas underground distribution system. The team works round-the-clock to provide reliable gas service to more than 340,000 customers. Because of their outstanding work, the American Public Gas Association (APGA) presented CPS Energy with an award for excellence in system integrity and system improvement in 2017. We were also recognized by APGA for responding to 89 percent of natural gas emergency calls within 30 minutes and 99 percent within 1 hour. In recognition of Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day, thank you Gas Delivery team for your hard work and dedication!