Buy Photo

Felix Adamo / The Californian

Welders cut into a 34-inch PG

Safety testing is expected to begin soon on more than six miles of natural gas pipeline Pacific Gas and Electric Co. owns and operates in Ridgecrest.

The first test is scheduled to start Wednesday morning on a quarter-mile length of transmission pipeline along North China Lake Boulevard between Drummond Avenue and West Felspar Avenue.

The second, set to start Sunday, stretches more than six miles east of North China Lake Boulevard along Inyokern Road.

San Francisco-based PG&E plans to evaluate the lines using hydrostatic pressure testing, which fills a pipeline with water then pressurizes it for more than eight hours at a level higher than it would be operated.

Both tests are expected to be finished by the end of May.

Systemwide, PG&E has tested 539 miles of natural gas pipeline since 2011. Kern County's portion of that work has totaled 48 miles, the utility reported Tuesday.

PG&E said the testing is expected to bring trucks, water tanks, heavy equipment, the smell of natural gas and loud, steady noise, but no interruption of gas service.