UniSource is upgrading natural gas pressure monitoring equipment that will help maintain reliable service for natural gas customers and prevent service outages.

UniSource maintains hundreds of pressure regulating stations throughout its service territory. Typically, pressure throughout the natural gas distribution system is tracked with mechanical recorders that log data on a paper chart. Employees physically check the monitors regularly to review the readings and update the charts.

In 2019, UniSource began testing a handful of new digital recorders in Flagstaff, Nogales and Show Low that capture gas pressure readings and provide nearly real-time monitoring. If gas pressure varies from typical levels, the digital recorders send an alert to key personnel monitoring the system.

Today, UniSource has installed dozens of the new, more efficient and reliable digital recorders across all UniSource gas service districts.

Duncan Jakes, Verde Valley District Manager and project supervisor, is working with a team of employees to ensure the new system operates as efficiently and reliably as possible.

“Our current recorders are mechanical. They use paper and ink. We thought, ‘How great would it be if we could see live pressure data,” Jakes said.

Real time alerts help prevent or reduce the impact of service interruptions by providing early warnings about gas supply, damaged lines or compromised equipment, Jakes said. System supervisors can use a website and text messages to monitor gas pressures and see the location of recorder alerts.

Use of the digital recorders throughout UniSource’s territory will help reduce employee travel time and vehicle maintenance costs while supporting compliance with state and federal rules. Crews expect to finish upgrading all of UniSource’s pressure monitoring equipment by the end of 2022.

Jakes said the program’s success can be attributed to the company’s dedication to customers, as well as the hard work and ingenuity of employees.

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