New tool allows Black Hills Energy to investigate suspected natural gas leaks from a safer social distance

Lincoln, Neb. (April 3, 2020) – For local energy company Black Hills Energy, the safety of our team members, customers and communities has always been the highest priority. In these uncertain times, many businesses are reassessing the way they safely interact with customers or the community and the same is true for Black Hills Energy.

For natural gas technicians, a report of a suspected natural gas leak is one of the most potentially hazardous situations the technician may ever encounter and for that reason, Black Hills Energy is utilizing a new device that allows technicians to detect the presence of natural gas from a farther distance, an especially important safety precaution at the moment.

The most commonly used device to detect the presence of natural gas in a structure is a Combustible Gas Indicator (CGI) that requires the technician to use a probe at arms distance to the structure. In 2019, as Black Hills Energy focused on more efficient methods to serve customers and increase safety, a search for a safer device identified a device that utilizes a laser to detect the presence of methane, the main chemical component of natural gas, from up to 100 feet.

“Once a suspected leak is reported, technicians need to quickly and safely determine if an actual leak is present. The laser technology allows us to do that from a farther distance, which helps ensure safety and maintain social distance,” said Kevin Jarosz, vice president of Nebraska natural gas operations. “This technology is part of our goal to focus on always improving how we serve our customers and to more quickly determine if a natural gas leak is present, saving time and ensuring the safety of our team and our community,” said Jarosz.

After completing a pilot program in Lincoln last year, a plan was put in place to distribute the devices across the state but in light of recent needs to increase social distancing, the plan was accelerated. The LZ-30 hand-held laser methane detection tools are now being utilized by technicians across the state.

As a reminder, an odorant is added to natural gas that makes leaks easier to detect. Anyone who smells the rotten-egg like smell needs to leave the area and then call 911 or Black Hills Energy immediately.

Source: Black Hills Energy