Lisa O'Leary Natural Gas Utilities Build Bikes for Local Children During Republican National Convention

IMG_0784Employees from the American Gas Association (AGA) and member utility Dominion teamed up to build bicycles for children in need in Cleveland, Ohio during the Republican National Convention. Thirty area children were selected to receive bicycles through the Rainey Institute, a 112-year-old cultural arts education organization located near Dominion East Ohio’s headquarters.

IMG_0790“We are in the midst of a national conversation about the future of this country and for natural gas utilities those relationships begin in our local communities,” said Dave McCurdy, AGA President and CEO. “All politics is local and our priority remains delivering energy safely and reliably to homes and businesses throughout this country.”

“Natural gas utilities deliver essential energy to more than 177 million Americans and are a true partner in the communities they serve,” said AGA Chairman Ralph LaRossa. “It is at the heart of everything we do and we wanted to make that spirit a part of our time in Cleveland.”

IMG_0788The bike building kits were supplied by Bikes for Goodness Sake, an organization AGA has partnered with during past Operations and Engineering Conferences. Dominion and AGA hosted the youngsters on Wednesday morning to receive their brand new bicycles and helmets.

AGA and Public Service Electric & Gas Company will hold a similar event in Camden, New Jersey during the Democratic National Convention next week. Stay tuned for photos from the upcoming event on the blog and AGA’s social media pages.

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Chris McGill Natural Gas Market Indicators: July 15, 2016

Natural gas prices tested the $3 per MMBtu mark for prompt-month futures at the end of June, but have retreated back about $0.25 given strength in storage inventories and a stubborn daily production rate that seems resistant to sustaining itself below 70 Bcf per day. However, the storage supply overhang is beginning to shrink as, of course, it should, while the net injection season progresses toward “operationally full” or perhaps even a new inventory record.

Since the beginning of the fourth week of May, the country has seen seven straight weeks of warmer than normal temperatures and thus, more cooling degree days than normal. In fact, as of the beginning of July, cooling degree days were running 18.6 percent above average with the cumulative counts 38 percent higher or more in the New England and Middle Atlantic regions. Only the West South Central region at 8.4 percent warmer was cumulatively below 14 percent warmer than normal among all regions of the country.

Clearly, as natural gas has fed power generation loads associated with the warmer temperatures, a more closely balanced supply and demand picture has emerged this summer coupled with small decreases in domestic production. The current 14-day temperature outlook from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows warmer than normal conditions continuing with the exception of the Pacific Northwest, which is expected to be cooler.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

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Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Utilities Offer Unique Education Programs Geared toward Youth

The cover story for the July issue of American Gas magazine titled, “More Than Child’s Play,” spotlights how AGA-member companies—Piedmont Natural Gas, Consumers Energy, Avista Corp., Washington Gas and Pepco Holdings—are diversifying their education initiatives by teaching youth about energy efficiency resources.

CHilds PlayThrough local partnerships, natural gas utilities are aiming to hone their messages with the intent to increase safety awareness, reduce at-home energy use and pique interest in STEM-related careers for kids. Take for example, Consumers Energy which has been working with the National Energy Foundation to deliver interactive classroom presentations on energy efficiency. The presentations which are geared toward fourth through seventh graders and reach 33,000 students each year, are aligned with state science standards. Kids receive toolkits filled with energy-saving tips and devices such as aerators and low-flow showerheads to use at home. As a result, Consumers Energy recently announced that its energy efficiency programs have helped homes and businesses save more than $1 billion since 2009.

In the District of Columbia, Washington Gas has partnered with Pepco Holdings, to create an interactive video game, “YOUtility Challenge,” to engage students to share energy efficiency messages on a platform they are already familiar with. This program puts a real-life spin on financial literacy for eighth graders, and features a family scenario and salary to help students make smart choices about paying bills and budgeting. The goal is to serve 9,000 students in Prince George’s County and southern D.C.

Piedmont Natural Gas, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, contracts with the National Theatre for Children to present live stage shows in nearly 65 schools across the country. The current version of the scripted, two-actor production, shares messages of energy efficiency and safety, and offers classroom materials such as posters and workbooks to students. Meanwhile, Avista Corp., based in Spokane, Washington, developed a web-based cartoon hound named Watson, who serves as an engaging character that provides important energy use lessons to young children.

Each community is different and the approaches that natural gas utilities employ to teach energy efficiency are unique. We appreciate the exceptional efforts by our member companies to increase education and awareness to consumers at an early age. Please let us know in the comment section below what your company is doing to provide energy education in your community.

 

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Jackie Bavaro #FuelingOurCommunities: Veterans

AGA’s members, natural gas utilities, are integrated in communities across the nation. Beyond the day-to-day efforts of delivering natural gas to homes and businesses, these companies make significant efforts to give back to the communities they serve. Natural gas utilities are truly #FuelingOurCommunties and we are thrilled to be able to help highlight some of their efforts through our social media platforms and here on the blog. While Veterans’ Day is not until November, many of our members have successful programs for those who have served in the military throughout the year—we have included just a few examples here.

Gas boot camp graduates and veterans Corey Douglas, left (Marines), and Michael Gibbs (Navy) are working on gas main installation projects.

Gas boot camp graduates and veterans Corey Douglas, left (Marines), and Michael Gibbs (Navy) are working on gas main installation projects.

In May, Consumers Energy was named a silver level Veteran-Friendly Employer by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for its dedication to employing military veterans. The utility partnered with Power for America and the Michigan National Guard to launch the Michigan Gas Boot Camp program, which provides opportunities for new employees — in this case Michigan National Guard members and honorably discharged military veterans — a straight-forward path to transition into good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. The four-week boot camp includes hands-on and instructional training and after a positive 90-day internship, full-time employment is offered with Consumers Energy. More than 200 applicants from across the state were interviewed with 40 veterans being selected to attend the 2016 camp.

Southwest Gas’ culture of giving is a cornerstone for the company. Each April the company holds the American Legion Post 149 Rock the Troops Poker Run, a motorcycle-centered fundraiser where proceeds go toward scholarships for deceased veterans’ children. The 2016 event was a huge success with nearly 300 registrants and nearly 50 volunteers helping with registration, logistics, providing food and much more.

SoCal Gas team of volunteers at the New Direction for Veterans Memorial Day 5K

SoCal Gas team of volunteers at the New Direction for Veterans Memorial Day 5K

In a similar vein, this past Memorial Day weekend, more than 2,000 runners and walkers of all ages honored active military and veterans at the 6th Annual New Directions for Veterans Memorial Day 5K Run/Walk. This event sponsored by Southern California Gas Co raises funds to help homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in Los Angeles County.

Thank you for your continued efforts to help veterans across the country and in your community. Please use the hashtag #FuelingOurCommunities to highlight how you’re giving back so we can promote your good work on our social media channels. Next month, we will be highlighting efforts that combat homelessness. Please share your initiatives with us to be featured on the True Blue Natural Gas blog.

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