PG&E Hosts Gas Certification Forum
At BIA|Bay Area’s request, PG&E representatives met with BIA members to provide updated information and answer questions about expanded gas certification requirements that go into effect on July 1, 2018. BIA members have had concerns about low passage rates on the written portion of the new English-only test, especially for workers whose first language is not English. The new regulations also mandate higher ratios of certified workers to trainees on specific tasks out in the field. Following the meeting, BIA will continue to monitor the situation, take input from members about potential mitigations and serve as a liaison to PG&E on the issue For more details from the meeting, see the attached slideshow prepared by PG&E Gas Certification Manager Josaphine Buennagel.
In the meantime, PG&E offers the following tips to avoid certification-related project delays:
1. Discuss certification requirements during your pre-construction meeting with PG&E. To obtain handouts that list the specific certification requirements for contractors and applicant installers, contact Josaphine Buennagel at JMTw@pge.com or 415-215-8772.
2. Send employees to the testing center as soon as possible and have them take a shot at the test. This will leave more time for employees that fail the test to focus on their weak areas and retake the test before the deadline.
3. Employees should make use of PG&E’s study guides (available online) and schedule a time to observe someone going through the skills qualification portion of the test.
The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) voted to add new residential construction to its gas certification regulation in 2017, a move that significantly expanded the program’s scope. Each utility is free to design its own certification program, however. PG&E representative Mike Bradley said the utility company tried using language translators for individuals who do not speak English but found they couldn’t distinguish between the knowledge of the test-taker and the translator. They also rejected offering the written test in multiple languages on safety grounds, noting that the regulations and safety protocols are in English.
In response to internal and external complaints, however, PG&E is developing a larger pool of questions for the written exam, which will eventually allow an individual more chances to demonstrate knowledge of all the key required areas. The utility does not tell the test-taker which question(s) he or she missed but does indicate which section of the regulation the question(s) originated.