Meet Curt Criss, Gas Operations Compliance Manager

If there is one word SDG&E employee Curt Criss understands well and lives by every day, it’s safety. Criss, who has spent more than three decades in natural gas operations for SDG&E, currently oversees several different teams as a gas operations compliance manager with one primary purpose: to ensure that all of San Diego’s natural gas pipelines are operated safely and reliably.

With more than 200 miles of transmission pipelines and more than 8,000 miles of distribution pipelines, that’s a lot of ground to cover for SDG&E’s dedicated work force.

“We have numerous programs that we deploy to make sure our pipelines are operating safely for our customers and employees who work around the pipelines”, said Curt Criss, gas operations compliance manager.

Whether performing a leak survey—physically inspecting pipelines and other natural gas equipment—or working closely with contractors and homeowners before any digging is done near high pressure lines, SDG&E’s dedicated workforce meets or exceeds every state and federal pipeline safety regulation.

Cutting edge leak detection

You may also notice some of SDG&E’s crews driving slowly in your neighborhood. These employees are patrolling the lines underground in the street with sensitive equipment mounted on trucks searching for even the smallest of leaks.

“With the advanced technology available to us today, the equipment we use is so sensitive that it can detect methane, which is the main component of natural gas, down to one part per million,” said Criss. “If a leak is detected, it is further evaluated to determine the hazard level. A plan is then set in motion to repair the leak and evaluate whether larger sections of pipe in the area need to be replaced as well.”

Human detection at its best

While state-of-the-art technology is important and critical to the safe operation of the natural gas system, there is one “old fashioned” tool our crews rely on every day – their noses! And, just as equipment undergoes testing…so do some of our employees’ noses. Select employees are routinely tested on how quickly and accurately they can smell natural gas and verify the right amount of odorant is present in the natural gas in our pipelines.

For Criss, while each day brings different tasks with different issues in different parts of the county, the focus and end result remains the same: safety, safety, safety.

Click here to learn more about our natural gas pipeline safety.