About 800 PG&E gas employees will move to the Bishop Ranch office park initially, but more may follow. The 250,000-square-foot building that PG&E leased could accommodate up to 1,000.
The 24-hour-a-day nerve center will accommodate PG&E workers now in San Francisco, Fresno, Walnut Creek and Concord.
"With engineers, emergency dispatchers, system operators, and others working side by side, we expect big gains in communication, efficiency and team building," said Nick Stavropoulos, the utility's executive vice president of gas operations.
The center will be responsible for monitoring and adjusting gas pressures in PG&E's vast network of pipelines.
"We're bringing together teams whose work needs to be coordinated," Stavropoulos said. "Bishop Ranch proved to be the best East Bay location that could accommodate a group of our size in one building."
The move is one of several PG&E initiatives to improve its gas operations. In the past year and a half, it has hired new leadership, separated its gas and electric businesses, compiled and reviewed pipeline records, and launched a far-reaching pipeline-testing and -replacement program.
The 2010 San Bruno gas explosion occurred after a power failure at a PG&E terminal in Milpitas caused pressure to increase along the gas transmission line. The explosion blew open a crater 72 feet long and 26 feet wide, launching a 28-feet section of 30-inch pipeline 100 feet. In the inferno, more than three dozen homes were destroyed and eight people were killed.
PG&E's new gas control center is planned to open this October but is not expected to be completed until the second quarter of 2013. The nerve center will oversee both the large transmission pipelines that deliver gas to populated areas, and PG&E's network of smaller distribution pipes that bring gas to customers' homes and businesses.
The PG&E deal is the latest in a string of large transactions at Bishop Ranch recently.
"With all of the deals happening at Bishop Ranch, that certainly strengthens San Ramon's key location as a business center in Northern California," said Marc Fontes, the city's economic development director.
General Electric leased space for a software complex that will have 400 employees. Bank of the West, Robert Half and Five9 also signed large deals that brought hundreds more to Bishop Ranch, one of the nation's prominent office parks.
The San Francisco-based utility signed a 10-year lease and has options to extend the rental deal nearly 25 more years to the spring of 2047. The lease was arranged through commercial realty brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.
Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.