pge_gasleak.jpgIn an effort to encourage natural gas conservation this month, PG&E is offering a $25 gift card to its customers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties who lower their December usage.

The offer comes as temperatures drop and gas consumption for heating goes up, putting pressure on the utility’s Peninsula pipeline infrastructure that distributes gas to more than 1 million customers.

“Some of our Peninsula gas lines are operating at reduced pressure, so we’re asking our customers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties to save gas this December,” PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said.

After the Sept. 9 gas line explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and destroyed or damaged more than 50 homes, the California Public Utilities Commission asked PG&E to reduce pressure in certain transmission pipelines by 10 percent, and the utility voluntarily reduced pressure by another 10 percent on top of that, Molica said.

Officials at PG&E and the CPUC are trying to avoid restoring pipeline pressure to prior levels until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation into the San Bruno explosion and determines exactly what caused it.

The utility will give the $25 debit cards – redeemable at any business that accepts MasterCard – to customers who use less gas this month compared to average use at the same address for the past three Decembers.

Molica said that past requests PG&E has made for its customers to conserve energy have been well received.

“When we call on them to conserve, they really do,” he said.

In January and February of 2011, PG&E will offer a 20 percent credit on utility bills for customers who use 10 percent less gas than during those same months last year, Molica said. The credit reward is offered to all PG&E customers.

Tips for lowering heating bills include setting water heater temperatures at 120 degrees, shutting furnaces off when leaving home for more than four hours and setting thermostats no higher than 68 degrees.

More conservation ideas are on PG&E’s website

Chris Cooney, Bay City News

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