Jackie Bavaro National Safe Digging Month: #Call811 Before You Dig

April marks the 10th annual National Safe Digging Month, an initiative put in place by the Common Ground Alliance to raise awareness about safe digging practices and the importance of calling 811 to prevent accidents, property damages and outages. As part of National Safe Digging Month, AGA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project:

  • Call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines are not marked.

Striking an underground utility line while digging can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially result in hefty fines and repair costs. A call must be placed to 811 before every digging project, from simple landscaping projects like planting trees or shrubs, to building a deck or installing a rural mailbox. Every six minutes an underground utility line or pipeline is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

Throughout this month, AGA will be highlighting the creative ways local natural gas utilities are educating the public about this crucial, and potentially life-saving program on TwitterFacebook and the True Blue Natural Gas blog. Let us know what your utility has planned by posting below or emailing Jackie Bavaro at jbavaro@aga.org.

For more information on National Safe Digging Month, please click here.

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Jackie Bavaro AGA Member Companies Explore the Latest Trend in Utility Customer Engagement: Journey Mapping

The April issue of American Gas Magazine titled, “That Aha Moment!” explores how Ameren Illinois, Southern Co., and Vectren began facilitating customer journey mapping, the latest trend in utility customer engagement. The three utilities discovered how journey mapping can help illuminate key touch points in the customer experience, improve engagement and lead to a successful long-term relationship with consumers.

At Ameren, nearly 35 staff members participated in the customer journey mapping sessions, which took place for four days over a two-week period. The group used E Source’s JourneyHub, a web-based tool that allows utilities to map customer touch points, along with flowchart maker and diagramming software Visio, to integrate the customer experience with the operational flow.

Employees examined the process—from both a customer-facing and operations Captureperspective. By using Journey Mapping the staff members in the group shifted their way of thinking about when they should provide information about outages. As a result, Ameren saw a 30 percent reduction in calls during its most recent outage by providing more effective messaging to customers.

While Ameren’s work was geared toward electricity restoration, gas companies can also take advantage of journey mapping for customer’s needs including gas emergencies/leaks, outages, starting or transferring service, bill payment, disconnections for nonpayment, nonemergency service inquiries, meter exchanges or participation in energy efficiency programs.

In 2015, Southern Co. Gas also engaged E Source to help revamp its Customer Experience strategy. The company interviewed more than 60 leaders and employees with the goal to improve overall customer engagement.  Journey mapping became a key component of that effort, revealing customers’ emotions—both good and bad—when doing business with the company. It allowed Southern Co., to focus not only on internal operations but on the customer experience aspect as well.

Similarly, in 2015, Vectren’s focus on journey mapping became a part of its continuous improvement and value stream analysis to better understand its process flows. Vectren’s greatest revelation came when the utility noted that not only do customers have different touch points, but they also have different “personas.” Vectren identified six personas including college students, new residents and retirees on fixed income, and looked at touch points for each group. Vectren is not far enough along to have garnered metrics about how changes are working, but the company  believes the right processes are in place to achieve better results when it comes to successful long-term relationships with customers.

The process of journey mapping brings together employees from the call center, the field, IT and the back office to reveal crucial information and learn from one another. That process can be extremely helpful in improving customer touch points—every point of contact with the utility from start to finish—and the increasing customer engagement. For more information, you can read the entire article here.

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Jackie Bavaro AGA Hosts Second Annual Next Level Women’s Leadership Program

Becky Blalock, Advisory Capital (center) pictured with Xcel Energy's Cheryl Campbell and Joni Zich.

Becky Blalock, Advisory Capital (center) pictured with Xcel Energy’s Cheryl Campbell (left) and Joni Zich (right). Photo courtesy of Becky Blalock.

The American Gas Association (AGA) hosted its second annual Next Level Women’s Leadership Program on March 15-17 at its headquarters in Washington, DC. This event was developed under the direction of AGA’s Leadership Council Diversity & Inclusion Task Force to provide a national forum that complements the diversity and inclusion efforts already underway by AGA member companies. This year, the meeting gathered more than 30 women executives from AGA member companies across the nation.


Dave McCurdy, AGA; Patricia Poppe, CMS Energy; and Colette Honorable, FERC lead Women Energy Executives Panel: Challenges & Opportunities.


Speakers included Diane Leopold, president and CEO, Dominion; Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president, Gas, Xcel Energy; Patricia Poppe, president and CEO, CMS Energy; and Dave McCurdy, president and CEO, AGA. Panels led in-depth workshops focused on a variety of topics ranging from industry case studies and business best practices to developing and enhancing one’s personal brand.

The Next Level Women’s Leadership Program is a year-long training and mentorship initiative. In addition to this kick-off event in DC, the program will include regional meetings hosted by member companies later this year.

We hope those who attended found value in this event and we look forward to seeing attendees again throughout the year. To learn more about the program, click here or contact Ysabel Suarez at 202-824-7024 or ysuarez@aga.org.

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Jackie Bavaro AGA Recognizes Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day

The American Gas Association (AGA) will recognize utility workers in the natural gas industry on March 18 during the second annual Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day. This nationwide event is intended to build public awareness about the hard work done by the employees of natural gas utilities.


“The best thing about my job is the high quality of people I work with. We want to see each other succeed, which means our company succeeds.” — Bernie, Cascade Natural Gas

In 2016, AGA launched the inaugural #MyNatGasJob campaign to tell the stories of natural gas utility workers throughout the country. To date, nearly 30 profiles have been included in the campaign, showcasing the interesting people and wide spectrum of job opportunities in the natural gas industry. You can view the worker profiles here or on Twitter using the hashtag #MyNatGasJob.

Safety is a core value for the natural gas industry and AGA looks forward to continuing to bring safe, reliable natural gas into homes and businesses across the nation. As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas can help us achieve energy security and build a more competitive economy.

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