Sensors will let gas company selectively shut off service in Long Beach

In a 4-0 vote, the Long Beach City Council passed a resolution to install sensors on city-owned utility poles. The sensors will allow National Grid to remotely shut off gas service during major flood events.

"There are 9,500 gas services in the city of Long Beach—homes that have gas," Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Joe Febrizio said.

The initiative will place wireless routers on 11 city-owned utility poles to be activated in the case of an emergency. The new sensors would prevent entire neighborhoods from losing service, and instead, allow National Grid to shut off the gas house by house in the most susceptible flood zones.

"Now, you'll be able to actually isolate it so instead of shutting down 9,000 homes, maybe you can shut off a block," Febrizio said. "Maybe 50 residents in lieu of 9,000."

Floodwater can cause permanent damage to gas and electrical equipment, leading to failures and in some cases, even fires, according to National Grid.

Locals say that is exactly what happened when Superstorm Sandy devastated the flood-prone barrier island in 2012, causing tens of millions of dollars in damages.

The utility pole sensors would correspond with automatic gas shut-off valves at homes and only be triggered if a house floods with more than a foot of water.

National Grid plans to install the flood sensors by August and the automatic shut-off valves by the end of this year.