By Kelly Koepke for Las Cruces Utilities
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 12.12.2021
Natural Gas Pressure and Service Technician, Isaac Armendarez, with Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), put his recent training to use before the class was even over. Armendarez and seven of his fellow techs spent two days learning to inspect, calibrate, and prove Roots rotary natural gas flow meters. Some 250 of these meters measure and regulate the flow of natural gas to commercial customers in the LCU’s service area.
“The biggest thing I learned was how to listen to the meters and even hear if they are out of balance,” says Armendarez, who has been with LCU for three years. “You know how sometimes a mechanic will tell you that your car sounds different? These guys taught us how to listen to the meters. Then we went out into the field and I heard that same sound! We couldn’t get the meter to balance onsite so we changed it out right there. I wouldn’t have known to listen for certain noises if not for the training.”
After the training on November 30 and December 1 conducted by Koons Gas Measurement, the entire Natural Gas Pressure and Service program, is now cross trained to inspect, prove, and repair the meters. Though the rotary gas meters are not new technology, they are more accurate for the higher flows used by commercial customers.
Recent staff retirements and duty changes had left LCU with only one technician trained to prove and repair the meters. “Many techs were brand new to these meters even though they are experienced technicians,” says LCU Training and Safety Coordinator, Jeff Griffith. “Everyone spent one day in a classroom setting, which included theory and then some hands-on practice to take meters apart and put them back together. They were shown what to look for and how to use the proving software. The next day, they went into the field to practice what they had been taught.”
Inspecting and calibrating these meters, called proving, is a task that LCU technicians must do for each meter once a year. First, a bypass must be set up so the business maintains natural gas flow during the inspection. Proving a meter could take upwards of 4 hours, depending on where the meter is located and whether adjustments need to be made in the field. Each meter must measure the flow of gas to within two percent of specifications.
If a meter is unable to be properly calibrated onsite, it must be removed, a new meter installed, and the old one brought back to the shop for repair or shipped back to the manufacturer for more extensive troubleshooting. Every rotary gas meter is replaced when it reaches 15 years in service.
“I loved my job before, and when we get training like this, I love it even more. I feel more valuable to the City of Las Cruces, myself and my family, and better able to serve our customers,” says Armendarez. “We already had a process for inspection and proving that wasn’t bad, but with what Koons showed us, we’re even more efficient and effective.”
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Gas Pressure and Service Technician, Justin Hise, in training class -Courtesy LCU