As a Gas Control Technician at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, IBEW 1245 member George Ordonez is highly trained to monitor and control the safe transport of pressurized natural gas. The job requires a broad range of physical, technical, and electronic skills and expertise. Like all IBEW 1245 Gas Control Technicians at SMUD, Ordonez has trained for several years on different kinds of software, a wide variety of equipment, and ample emergency response scenarios.
The Utility Reporter caught up with Ordonez at the Campbell’s Soup Co-Generation Power Plant in Sacramento. (Coincidentally enough, the same site once served as a temporary home for IBEW’s Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee during the construction of the new northern California campus.)
Ordonez and his colleagues were working to reestablish a connection to the cathodic protection transmitter so that it can be monitored on the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.
“Cathodic protection is utilized for protection of corrosion on our pipeline. If our cathodic protection levels are not adequate, they can cause cathodic disbondment,” he explained. “We monitor our levels, whether they’re too negative or they’re zero or positive, to make sure they are within our specs or our procedures.”
Specifically, Ordonez needed to reestablish a connection to the valve because some wires had been frayed during a sandblasting project. Ordonez used a process called ‘pin brazing’ to address the issue.
“It is basically brazing a stud utilizing a battery-operated gun,” he described. “The stud is pulled off of the pipe or the flange of the pipe that we’re replacing, and the arc across will create heat. And once that heat is created, it will drop into the molten solder and fuse it to the actual flange. Then you’ll connect wires to it to monitor the cathodic protection levels at this valve location.”
As a proud seven-year member of IBEW 1245, Ordonez appreciates and recognizes the value of union representation. The benefits—literally and figuratively—of having a strong union are not lost on him.
“The union fights for our people to have better wages, better benefits, and they fight for our MOU and they help us,” he said.
Photos by John Storey