Norm Kohls, lead engineer for Pipeline 1600

Walking the Line of Safety

Norm Kohls emphasizes the importance of taking care of our natural gas pipelines.

Did you know there are 234 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline and over 8,000 miles of distribution pipeline in San Diego County?

Whether you use natural gas at home or work for heating, cooking or industrial needs, pipelines are needed to deliver it to you safely and reliably.

As the lead engineer for pipeline safety projects to upgrade a transmission pipeline in San Diego, Norm Kohls is instrumental in walking the line of safety. He was recently honored at our annual Engineering Excellence Awards celebration for the role he plays in ensuring safe, clean and reliable service for our customers.

Upgrading Pipeline 1600

Norm is leading the implementation of the pipeline safety projects that will upgrade Pipeline 1600,  which were recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). These 19 safety projects are part of SDG&E’s Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan.

Pipeline 1600 is a  50-mile-long natural gas transmission pipeline that was built in 1949 and runs from Riverside/San Diego County line and interconnects with other parts of the San Diego natural gas system in Mission Valley. About 150,000 customers rely on it for their primary or sole supply of natural gas.

Beginning in 2020, approximately 37 miles of Pipeline 1600 will be replaced and approximately 13 miles will be strength tested. Modernizing and upgrading our pipelines is critical to the reliable delivery of natural gas to our customers.

“Natural gas plays an important role in the energy needs of our region,” he said. “And our work will result in a much safer and more reliable pipeline that will safely serve our community for decades to come.”

Path to Pipelines

Norm’s journey with SDG&E began as an intern in the gas engineering department while he was attending San Diego State University.

After graduating from SDSU, Norm first joined General Dynamics Space Systems. As an engineer, he supported the final assembly of the Titan-Centaur upper stage rocket which was used to launch classified military payloads, deep space probes, and enabled several high-profile NASA missions.

Fun fact: The General Dynamics complex was located at Century Park in the very same spot SDG&E sits today! He has now been with SDG&E 27 years and has witnessed and played an integral role in both the electric and gas side of the business.

Sempra’s First International Project

One of Norm’s adventures would take him to Mexico where he led the technical team that won the licenses to create the Mexicali and Chihuahua gas distribution businesses as well as the pipeline from San Diego to Rosarito. This business has continued to grow and as IEnova, is now one of Sempra Energy’s biggest successes. 

“The Ecogas Mexicali project was exciting as we were like a small start-up company made up of people from both SDG&E and SoCalGas prior to the merger that created Sempra,” he said. “I would like to think that the strong teamwork between the companies played a part in setting the stage for the great things that have happened with Sempra since then.”

A scanned a picture of Norm in Chihuahua, Mexico in the 1990s at the newly established offices of Ecogas Chihuahua, one of Sempra’s first international location, now part of IEnova.
A scanned a picture of Norm in Chihuahua, Mexico in the 1990s at the newly established offices of Ecogas Chihuahua, one of Sempra’s first international locations, now part of IEnova.

More Information

To learn more about SDG&E’s commitment to gas safety, visit