Author Archives: Jackie Bavaro

Jackie Bavaro

About Jackie Bavaro

Jackie Bavaro is American Gas Association’s (AGA) Communications Specialist. Prior to joining AGA, Jackie worked as a federal contractor at the U.S. Department of Transportation supporting the Cybersecurity program within the Office of the Secretary. Previously, in a similar capacity, Jackie worked at the Department of Labor as a business analyst, researching ways to efficiently consolidate IT investments across the Department. In August 2014, Jackie completed her Master’s degree from Georgetown University in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Jackie holds a B.S. in Communication Studies with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University.

Jackie Bavaro Infrastructure Week 2017: #TimetoBuild

Today marks the beginning of the fifth anniversary of Infrastructure Week, a national week of education and advocacy focused around the #TimetoBuild theme. From May 15-19, advocates from across infrastructure sectors will gather in Washington D.C., and throughout the nation to highlight the importance of policies and investments essential for keeping our infrastructure functioning safely and reliably into the future—things like natural gas pipelines, airports, bridges, roads, rails, and the power grid. There are more than 70 events being held this week that will help highlight the “Time to Build” theme.

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There is nothing more important to America’s natural gas utilities than the safety of the customers we serve and the communities in which we operate. Throughout the country we are seeing public utility commissions recognize that low natural gas bills present an opportunity to continue to enhance the safety of the delivery network by upgrading pipes that may no longer be fit for service and replacing them with ones made from more modern materials. While all natural gas utilities upgrade and modernize their infrastructure using risk-based integrity management programs, 41 states and the District of Columbia now have specific rate mechanisms that foster accelerated replacement of pipelines.

Follow the AGA Twitter and Facebook pages for updates on events and to follow our progress on Capitol Hill and communities nationwide. Use the hashtag #TimetoBuild to join the conversation. You can learn more about how to participate in Infrastructure Week 2017 here.

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Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Utilities Raise the Bar on Safety

The May issue of American Gas Magazine titled, “Worker Safety: Yours, Mine and Ours,” focuses on the safety programs at three AGA member companies: Xcel Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Vectren, and how they are drawing on new research, insights and processes to strengthen safety at every level within their organizations.

Over the past nine years, Xcel Energy has made impressive strides when it comes to bolstering safety values within the company. Employee safety efforts have reduced Occupational Safety and Health Administration incidents by half—preventing injuries to approximately 700 employees. During this time, Xcel has changed the way it communicates with employees, emphasizing openness and providing as much information as possible in the aftermath of an incident. Xcel leadership points to honesty and transparency as fundamental elements for their safety success.

AmGASPG&E has adopted highly sophisticated, metric-driven tools and is setting a new standard when it comes to safety. The utility relies on its extensive legacy of data and procedures, which centers around four main principles: Creating a safety culture where employees follow all standards and regulations; understanding hazards to identify potential risks; managing risk by establishing procedures, training, emergency management and other aspects of operational readiness; and learning from experience by determining and correcting systemic and organizational failures.

Along with safety culture and asset management, process safety is one of the three pillars that comprise PG&E’s safety management system, titled, Gas Safety Excellence. The process safety pillar focuses on preventing and mitigating unintentional natural gas releases. PG&E’s systems also draw on international standards and research. In 2014, PG&E became the first utility to receive a double certification for asset management, and in 2015, it became the first company in the world to receive a certificate of compliance with the requirements of the American Petroleum Institute’s new standard, RP 1173.

In 2014, Vectren, conducted an employee survey to help the company understand its challenges when it came to enhancing safety culture. One outcome of this survey included restructuring its safety culture governance model. The model engages employees from the front line to the board of directors to improve in the development of its safety culture. A company-wide advisory team includes executives, directors and union officers, fostering engagement at the highest leadership levels. The tiered structure also includes guidance teams that address safety concerns across all operations, as well as local teams that address safety concerns at the operating center level. Some of the most important work takes place in the natural gas operating centers and local safety meetings. That’s where a holistic approach meets individual ownership.

Developing a safety culture means that all individuals within a company from directors to field workers—consider safety to be essential to their jobs. Employees take responsibility for monitoring their work activities and seeking better and safer ways to operate. Ongoing engagement and commitment to continuous improvement reinforces the message that safety never takes a back seat to other business metrics.  To read the entire article, click here.

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Jackie Bavaro AGA Member Companies Celebrate Earth Day in their Communities

On Saturday, April 22, more than 190 countries across the globe took part in activities commemorating the 47th annual Earth Day. AGA member companies, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Consumers Energy and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E), celebrated by teaming up with employees, family, friends and city volunteers to help restore their local parks and educate residents about smart energy efficiency options.

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PG&E volunteers restoring state parks in Northern California.

PG&E presented California State Parks Foundation’s (CSPF) 19th Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup, which focused on restoring 40 state parks across California. The company sponsored projects at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area in Sacramento County, as well as several parks in the Bay Area including Mt. Diablo State Park. In addition, PG&E provided a $200,000 grant to CSPF for the supplies and materials needed to complete 10 Earth Day projects in Northern and Central California.

Since its inception in 1998, more than 83,000 volunteers have contributed over 330,000 hours to the Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup program. This has saved the state of California nearly $6.6 million in park maintenance and improvement costs. Additionally, nearly $5 million has been raised through the Earth Day program to benefit state parks and the millions of Californians who rely on them for recreation, education and inspiration.

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Consumers Energy volunteers clearing trash for new disc golf course at Ella Sharp Park in Jackson, Michigan.

Consumers Energy employees and the city of Jackson, MI teamed up to clean five different areas within the city. Nearly 100 volunteers dispersed across Ella Sharp Park, downtown Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, Loomis Park and the Inter-City Trail picking up trash and litter in honor of Earth Day. The partnership highlights the first time the two organizations have worked together as part of the company’s cleanup efforts every April.

BGE representatives made it a top priority to speak at several events and share information about energy efficiency and conservation with customers on Earth Day. Employees also participated in an Eco-Challenge where more than 500 participants reduced energy consumption and waste. Through this challenge and other efforts, BGE commended employees with Environmental Achievement awards for their personal dedication to environmental sustainability.

This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy presented BGE with its ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence Award. BGE has also been recognized by industry leaders such as the Audubon Society, Wildlife Habitat Council and the National Wildlife Federation and spends Earth Day educating our local communities about ways to preserve and protect our planet.

These are just a few highlights of the efforts underway in AGA’s members’ communities. Let us know in the comments section below what you’ve been doing to celebrate Earth Day this year. We’d love to highlight your efforts on AGA’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Please send your stories to Jackie Bavaro at jbavaro@aga.org.

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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:
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  • 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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