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Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a business wing of PG&E Corporation (PCG - Analyst Report), announced that it has incorporated the new advanced hand-held laser scanner device, EXAscan, to improve natural gas pipeline safety. The revolutionary device offers accurate and effective means to maintain the safety and reliability of the pipelines.

As per the company’s Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan ("PSEP"), the technology will complement other safety measures employed by PG&E to assess, repair and replace pipelines lying in its service coverage areas.

EXAscan beats the orthodox ways of manually detecting pipeline corrosion and is rather a more time-saving and cost-efficient option for industry players. The technology will enable Pacific Gas and Electric to obtain information regarding any corrosion within minutes. This would help the company evaluate and make prompt decisions about pipeline operations.

The laser tool was manufactured by privately held Canadian company Creaform and works by placing the device a few inches above a pipeline section which then gives a color coded three dimensional picture on the monitor and spots any probable hazardous signs like dents or warping and corrosion inside the pipelines.

EXAscan’s capabilities are not confined solely to PG&E’s natural gas pipelines. The device can also be utilized in performing stress tests in hydroelectric infrastructures. PG&E’s engineers recently conducted stress tests to determine the reliability of the rotors at the Helms Pumped Storage Plant in Oakhurst-North Fork, California.  

We believe this state-of-the-art device will minimize chances of pipeline accidents resulting from infrastructural glitches and ensure the timely and smooth supply of electricity to customers. PG&E has also been fitting the latest Smart Grid technology and powering more than 400 of its distribution circuits.

However, these modernization programs would cost the company substantially. Unless recovered by regulatory base cases, the costs may spill over to the customers’ bills. PG&E currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Another Zacks Ranked #3 operator in the utility domain to look out for is FirstEnergy Corporation (FE - Analyst Report).

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, PG&E Corporation is engaged in electricity and natural gas distribution; electricity generation and transmission; and natural gas procurement, transportation, and transmission and storage operations. The company has a market cap of $17.47 billion.

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