By C.T. Barnes
Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 6.10.22
For the past three years Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) has been networking with other utility municipalities in the Southwest to strengthen their information sharing for the betterment of their customers.
“This started more as a collaboration within LCU, we have networked with a lot of other municipal utilities at national conferences and in our conversations, from those discussions LCU was invited to visit other cities in our region,” stated LCU Deputy Director Natural Gas and Energy Lucio Garcia.
Three years ago, LCU’s first site visit was to the City of Mesa Utilities in Arizona, LCU had hoped to schedule similar trips, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans. With restrictions lifting, LCU was able to visit the City of Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) facilities this past month.
Colorado passed a regulation to capture and control methane, challenging CSU to figure out an efficient way to meter methane, regulate it, and account for how much menthane is released in the atmosphere in the next two years. LCU does not capture or control methane yet, but the practice is expanding throughout the utilities industry. This is one reason LCU placed high importance on staying in contact and fostering networking opportunities with municipalities in the region. “Processes other utilities are implementing or researching may be good ideas for us to mimic or understand what would work in our community,” LCU Gas Systems Inspection Supervisor Ramiro Pereyra stated.
Something that LCU currently utilizes that CSU has not yet implemented is a Global Positioning System (GPS) identification of all their utility lines. LCU’s GPS program, allows the city-owned utility to document any damages in real-time. “We are a little ahead of them in this technology and we invited them to come to Las Cruces and tour our facility to see how we implement our GPS technology in our community,” added LCU Technical Gas Systems Supervisor and Interim Gas System Operations Supervisor Pete Duran.
Another great insight LCU was able to provide to CSU is their corrosion testing. Currently LCU connects their system to a test box, which alerts the detection of corrosion. This is something CSU has not done yet and LCU was able to provide assistance and share information on how our system is working in the service area. CSU’s corrosion engineer is now looking to implement a similar program for their staff to be up-to-date on their readings to help detect corrosion.
The next goal for LCU is to send a team to visit the municipal utilities in San Antonio, Texas, to expand their knowledge network. In turn LCU hopes to open the door for similar site visits to take place at their facilities. “We have a lot of experience in the industry, so it is easy for our team to talk to industry members about problems we are facing or issues they may be working on. It broadens the connection on how to solve problems that we have and is just a great way to better ourselves and the Las Cruces community,” Garcia concluded.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. 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 staff working on high-pressure natural gas line-Courtesy LCU