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New member spotlight: Boss Solutions     

Author: Sarah Magruder Lyle, CGA President and CEO

While BOSS Solutions just became a member in 2020, they have participated in the CGA Conference & Expo the past five years and served the damage prevention industry for decades. By incorporating best practices in the automation of ticket management processes together with their commitment to customer support in the industry, they have built a committed customer base.

BOSS Solutions is the developer of award winning BOSS811, a powerful cloud based One Call Ticket Management Solution for the damage prevention industry that helps public works, municipalities, utilities, pipeline and locator companies improve efficiency, stay compliant and reduce operating costs by making it easy to manage locate requests and ensure safe digging. BOSS811 has been developed with a state-of-the-art technology stack sporting a modern new generation UI and navigation.

BOSS Solutions says their customers love the flexibility and ease of use, the improved ability to track and manage locate requests, and the significant cost savings that it offers. It incorporates features such as GIS mapping and advanced ticket management with a powerful routing engine and mobile apps, and comes with an easily configurable dashboard. Extensive reporting and analytics on ticket data helps management make informed decisions. BOSS Solutions caters to a wide range of industries from utilities to fiber and their customers include CenterPoint Energy, Google Fiber, the city of San Jose CA, Sawnee EMC and many more.

CGA is exited to have BOSS Solutions as a new member, as well as part of the 2021 CGA Conference & Expo! Click here to register for the damage prevention’s premier event of the year scheduled for Oct. 12-15 in-person in Orlando. 

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CenterPoint Energy announces damage prevention leadership award winner

Author: Josh Beach, CenterPoint Energy

CenterPoint Energy recently announced Jim Wooten, damage prevention coordinator in Ohio, as the 2020 CenterPoint Energy Damage Prevention Award winner. This annual recognition is given to an employee who demonstrates the leadership qualities necessary to drive progress in the damage prevention industry. Jim, the second recipient to receive this award, received a custom-made hardhat decorated with the 811 brandmark.  

“Jim personifies what it means to be a team player,” said Matt Hill, manager of damage prevention in Indiana and Ohio. “When we were looking to send help to Minnesota to assist with recovery efforts from the Minneapolis civil unrest, Jim volunteered right away knowing we would ask him to work through the weekend and be away from home. After Jim returned from Minnesota, I received glowing remarks about his work ethic and ability to collaborate.”

Jim was recognized with the award during a virtual team meeting for the entire damage prevention and public awareness department. During the award announcement, Jim was praised for:

  • Successfully onboarding a new locating vendor in Ohio;
  • Volunteering to assist with recovery efforts after the Minneapolis civil unrest;
  • Being an active member of the Ohio 811 board of directors and three regional damage prevention councils; and
  • Achieving one of Ohio’s best damage rates on record.

“Jim is a selfless leader with a genuine passion for damage prevention. One of Jim’s biggest challenges in 2020 was onboarding a new locating vendor in Ohio, and he was able to accomplish that large feat while achieving a very impressive damage rate in Ohio. That speaks volumes about Jim and his focus on improving public safety,” said Ashley Babcock, director of damage prevention and public awareness.

CenterPoint Energy’s damage prevention and public awareness department covers nine states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas. This award is an extension of the team culture that is built on collaborating with damage prevention partners and sharing and learning proven practices to educate the public and excavators on safe digging.

Indiana 811 unveils newly wrapped vehicle, spreads safe digging message

Author: Mary Patricia Kindt, Indiana 811

Indiana 811 is looking forward to hitting the road this year to spread the safe digging message! This eye-catching car wrap design, featuring long-time Indiana 811 mascot Holey Moley, will be seen by drivers across the state as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Transit Connect embark on Hoosier Highways. The wrapped vehicles will not only bring brand awareness to Indiana 811, but provide essential safe digging information to onlookers such as the Color Code for utility markings.

National Innovation Day: PG&E partners in three new and state of the art clean air technologies 

Author: Melissa Subbotin and Jason King, PG&E

Last month, Feb. 16 marked National Innovation Day, a chance to recognize new ideas, products and services that are changing the world. For PG&E’s award-winning Gas Operations Research and Development and Innovation team, every day is Innovation Day. This team is driving the development of technologies that could dramatically shift the paradigm on methane detection and the capture and repurpose of carbon dioxide, a key contributor to climate change.

“We’re working collaboratively with our peers in the natural gas industry, the nation’s leading research institutions, and innovative startups to create new tools and methods to provide clean and safe energy to PG&E’s customers. Ultimately, this collaboration helps to accelerate developments by tapping the best resources. It also improves our overall industry practices in the United States and throughout the world,” said François Rongère, the team’s senior manager.

Along with safety and operational excellence, reducing PG&E’s carbon footprint is one of the major focus areas of PG&E’s Gas Operations R&D and Innovation team. PG&E was an early supporter of California’s statewide emissions goals and remains committed to helping achieve a reduction of methane emissions to 40 percent below 2015 levels by 2030.

Last month, three projects entered new phases in testing and with these milestones, increased potential for new and exciting opportunities on the frontlines of climate change.

State-of-the-art leak detection

For more than six years, PG&E has collaborated with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other partners to adapt NASA’s Open Path Laser Spectrometer sensor on an unmanned aerial system or drone. The miniature methane sensor developed by the laboratory is derived from the technology developed by NASA to find life on Mars and is 1,000 times more sensitive than most commercially available technology.

The drone-mounted leak detection sensor can survey large stretches of infrastructure in a short amount of time, including areas that are more time consuming to cover using traditional patrol methods, to detect any leaks. Since leaks are identified and quantified faster, they can be prioritized for repair to reduce methane emissions.

The technology assesses emissions levels by flying around a source where concentration enhancements measured downwind are combined with wind speed to estimate emissions.

After several years of modifications and testing, the UAS leak detection technology is likely in its final year of development. The goal is to bring the technology into operational use sometime in 2022.

The ability to deploy an aerial methane detection tool over long distances and in remote, hard-to-reach areas could signal a major turning point in future gas leak detection capabilities for PG&E, and the utility industry.

Carbon capture and transformation

PG&E’s service area covers most of Northern and Central California, which includes Silicon Valley where some of the world’s leading innovators and research institutions are located.

With such close proximity to some of the preeminent pioneers in climate change-fighting technology, PG&E has found collaboration opportunities including with startup Opus 12 and the Alfred Spormann Laboratory at Stanford University.

Opus 12 is a clean-energy startup which originated at Stanford University and the prestigious Cyclotron Road program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The Opus 12 team created a new proprietary system to convert water and carbon dioxide into renewable natural gas in one step.

“We see CO2 electrolysis as an important future lever in the state’s carbon emissions reduction roadmap. Our technology transforms waste CO2 emissions and renewable electricity into green natural gas, which can be used in existing pipelines, essentially turning California’s gas grid into an enormous battery. We partnered with PG&E to demonstrate a prototype of this process and we look forward to future collaboration toward commercial-scale deployment of our technology across the state,” said Nicholas H. Flanders, Opus 12 co-founder and CEO.

PG&E is investing in research and infrastructure to support the possibility of renewable natural gas that not only offers a carbon neutral source of energy to its customers, but also helps California businesses such as dairies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by capturing methane and carbon dioxide otherwise released into the atmosphere.

At nearly every biogas production facility, roughly 40 percent of the produced biogas is carbon dioxide by volume. And today, that carbon dioxide biproduct is typically vented.

Opus 12 is focused on repurposing this excess carbon dioxide into additional methane through a single electrochemical step using excess renewable electricity and water. By converting carbon dioxide into a controlled form of methane, it can then be incorporated into the development of RNG.  This would effectively increase the output capacity of the overall RNG production process.

During the first phase of Opus 12’s project, the team demonstrated the world’s first methane-producing PEM electrolyzer, and the highest reported partial current density to methane in literature.

Repurposing carbon dioxide 

As part of a consortium funded through NYSEARCH, PG&E is also involved in a project with the Laboratory of Professor Alfred Spormann at Stanford University, which is also looking at the possibilities of repurposing carbon dioxide into methane using a biological, rather than chemical, process.

PG&E initiated the partnership between Stanford and NYSEARCH, which is currently funding phase 2 in a 24-month long project to understand the effects of intermittent electricity on bacteria that use excess renewable electricity, water and carbon dioxide as food sources to produce methane and oxygen with zero byproducts.

“Microbial electromethanogenesis is a highly promising technology platform for storing excess electricity as methane, and for decarbonizing natural gas,” said Alfred Spormann, professor of Chemical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University.

While Stanford’s integrated microbial process is still in its early stages, it continues to show great promise as yet another possible technology in PG&E’s portfolio capable of helping the company achieve carbon neutral renewable natural gas.

From drones equipped with sensors once used to potentially identify life on Mars to the possibilities of converting carbon dioxide emissions into pipeline quality fuels, PG&E is proud to support the development and future operational use of technologies that are making the way we deliver energy resources to our customers cleaner, safer and more innovative.

Member Tools & Resources Feature Icon

National Safe Digging Month toolkit available online

Author: Erika Lee, CGA Vice President

Each year, the damage prevention industry celebrates National Safe Digging Month (NSDM) in April. Throughout the month, campaigns and activities help promote safe digging practices to the general public and professionals nationwide. CGA has put together a NSDM toolkit for members, which includes a variety of social media messages and infographics, guidelines for remote media interviews and proclamations, and materials for kids. CGA will continue to update the toolkit, so be sure to visit regularly. 

Data & Technology Data & Technology Icon

2020 DIRT data submissions due March 31

Author: Steve Blaney, DIRT Program Manager

The March 31 deadline to submit 2020 DIRT data is fast approaching. We encourage submissions to be made as soon as possible so that you can be a part of the damage prevention story. Submit your 2020 damage or near-miss data by visiting http://www.identity.cga-dirt.com/. If this is your first time submitting to DIRT, click here to register for an account.

To ensure you are submitting the most complete and accurate data possible, be sure to read DIRT Program Manager Steve Blaney’s guide to common DIRT submission mistakes. CGA also created short video tutorials for stakeholders on how to upload a single report and how to bulk upload damage data.

If you have questions about submitting data or with DIRT registration issues, contact DIRT staff for support.

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CGA’s Sarah Magruder Lyle moderates National Safety Council panel discussion

Author: Khrysanne Kerr, VP of Marketing and Research   

Last month, CGA President & CEO Sarah Magruder Lyle moderated the National Safety Council Construction & Utilities Division panel discussion on excavation and trenching. The panel included Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)'s Annmarie Robertson, HEI Civil's Kathy Freeman and National Trench Safety's Richard Hearn.

If you were unable to attend, you can click here to watch the webinar online. 

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