Category Archives: 811

Lisa O'Leary AGA Members Draw Awareness to Safe Digging on 811 Day

On August 11, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) once again commemorated National 811 Day to promote safe digging practices and the Call Before You Dig campaign. No matter the type and size of digging project – from installing a mailbox to building a patio or deck, it is always critical  to call 811 several days prior to digging to identify the approximate location of underground utility lines, including natural gas. Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of natural gas pipeline incidents across the country, though improvements are being made thanks to the education and outreach by CGA, local natural gas utilities and other stakeholders.

Each year on 811 Day, the American Gas Association’s (AGA’s) member companies work to educate their customers and the communities they serve about the importance of calling 811 before digging. The following highlights showcase many of the activities AGA’s members and partners participated in to help raise awareness about calling 811:

Image Credit: PHMSA

Image Credit: PHMSA

Throughout the month of July, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) took over the Navy Yard/Nationals Park Metro station in Washington, D.C. with 811 banners, posters and other signage.

Image Courtesy of CGA

Image Courtesy of CGA

On August 6, DOT and PMSA hosted a pre-baseball game event at the Washington Nationals’ stadium with Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez and this year’s winner of Energy Safe Kids’ annual 811 poster contest. Safe digging procedures and Call 811 were promoted during all five baseball games prior to August 11, most notably on a banner directly behind home plate.

Image Credit: CenterPoint Energy

Image Credit: CenterPoint Energy

CenterPoint Energy in Houston, TX hosted a downtown block party complete with food and prizes, while the utility’s Minnesota branch teamed up with marking companies for the annual 811 5k Run/Walk followed by a kids fun run, awards ceremony, prizes and safety fair. All proceeds from the 5k benefitted Operation Warm, an organization that provides warm winter coats to children in need.

Image Credit: CGA

Image Credit: AGA

Pacific Gas & Electric, along with CGA and other stakeholders, had the honor of ringing the New York Stock Exchange closing bell in front of a large Call 811 banner on 8/11. Click here to watch the archived video from the event.

columbia gas 811 cake

Image Credit: Columbia Gas of PA

Things got a little wild at the Washington Wild Things baseball game on 8/11 thanks to Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. Tickets were just $8.11 and Digger Dog threw out the first pitch.  In addition to the game, Columbia Gas distributed special 811-themed cakes  to local radio stations to help drive awareness during the morning commute and online.

Image Credit: Victor Espinoza/Twitter

Image Credit: Victor Espinoza/Twitter

Call 811-sponsored jockey and Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza once again took to his Twitter page to remind customers to call 811 before beginning any digging projects, big or small.

In addition to 811 Day, the month of April is National Safe Digging Month (NSDM). As part of their ongoing commitment to safety, AGA member companies air PSAs and TV spots, host events and contests, and carry out social media campaigns to promote safe digging. If you are a natural gas utility, let us know about future Call 811 activities in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what your utility has in the works and to share your activities on AGA’s social media pages and blog. You can also email

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Lisa O'Leary Atmos Energy Receives First Annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence Award

While natural gas utilities are dedicated to enhancing the safety of their operations, public awareness is a critical part of safe natural gas delivery. Finding effective ways to spread safety messages goes a long way toward ensuring that everyone can safely enjoy the benefits of natural gas.

This year, the American Gas Association (AGA) held our first annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence (SAVE) Award, recognizing the outstanding contributions utilities across the country make in advancing natural gas safety communications.

(From L-R: Ronald Bradley, VP, Gas Operations, PECO Energy and AGA Operations Conference Chairman; Michael Haefner, Executive VP, Atmos Energy; Jeff Knights, VP, Technical Services - Mid-Texas Division, Atmos Energy; Christina Sames, VP, Operations & Engineering, AGA)

(From L-R: Ronald Bradley, VP, Gas Operations, PECO Energy and AGA Operations Conference Chairman; Michael Haefner, Executive VP, Atmos Energy; Jeff Knights, VP, Technical Services – Mid-Texas Division, Atmos Energy; Christina Sames, VP, Operations & Engineering, AGA)

AGA is pleased to announce the 2015 overall award recipient is Atmos Energy for their video submission, “Do You Dig It? Always Call Before You Dig”.  We’d also like to congratulate Co Serve for receiving the most public votes on AGA’s Facebook page for its “Mr. Diggs Gets the 411 on 811 (Armadillo Whisperer)” video.

AGA received many great submissions, and we encourage everyone to check them out on AGA’s YouTube channel by clicking on the “AGA Safety Video Award Submissions 2015″ playlist. Details about the 2016 SAVE Award will be posted on AGA’s website at a later date. In the meantime, share the creative ways your company is spreading natural gas safety messages in the comments section below and you may be featured in an upcoming AGA blog post.

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Lisa O'Leary AGA Financial Forum 2015: Investing in America’s Energy Future

Nearly 550 attendees traveled to Palm Desert, California earlier this week for the 2015 American Gas Association (AGA) Financial Forum. Energy industry executives, security analysts, portfolio managers, rating agencies, and commercial and investment bankers came together to discuss the outlook for the energy industry and individual AGA member companies.


In addition to nearly 25 formal company presentations, the Financial Forum offered a structured program of technical workshops, financial community visitation tables and organized company dinners to provide substantial time for assessment of company opportunities.

Chris McGill

During the General Session, AGA Vice President of Policy Analysis Chris McGill moderated a panel entitled, “A Long-Term Energy Market with $50 Oil – Impact to Economy and Natural Gas Sector,” which included executives from Ponderosa Advisors LLC, the Natural Gas Supply Association, NiSource Inc., and Devon Energy Corp.  The speakers on the panel discussed the dynamics of moving from an energy market dominated by scarcity to one of abundance, as well as how this may impact the United States’ energy future.


At the conclusion of the Financial Forum, the 2014 Chairman of the AGA Finance Committee Andrew Evans, of AGL Resources, handed over the reins to current Vice Chairman Steven Rasche, of The Laclede Group Inc. The AGA Finance Committee looks forward to working closely with Rasche throughout the next year, as well as hosting the 2016 Financial Forum next May in Naples, Florida.

Victor Espinoza preakness stakes

Photo Credit: Associated Press

AGA cheered on Call 811-sponsored jockey Victor Espinoza from the Financial Forum as he rode Derby-winning American Pharaoh to victory in the Preakness Stakes. Thanks in part to more than 30 members of the Common Ground Alliance, an organization dedicated to educating professionals and homeowners about the importance of following safe digging procedures, 10 million viewers around the world were reminded of the importance to “Call 811 Before You Dig.” AGA will be watching Espinoza race for the third and final jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, on Saturday, June 6.

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Lisa O'Leary Natural Gas Utilities Spread Message of Safe Digging Procedures

Call 811 Before You Dig

This April marked the eight annual National Safe Digging Month (NSDM), an initiative put in place by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) to remind professionals and homeowners to “Call 811 Before You Dig” and follow safe digging procedures to help prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. People digging often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked due to concerns about project delays, costs and previous calls about other projects. These assumptions can be life-threatening.

Every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees or shrubs. To get started, dial 811 to be connected to your local One Call Center which will gather information about the project and alert your local utility company. Crews will then locate the utility lines near your planned project and make sure they are properly marked so you can be sure to avoid them. The process is fast, simple and free.

All month long, local natural gas utilities took creative steps to spread the word about safe excavation practices. Damage from construction and digging activity is the leading cause of pipeline incidents, so communicating with customers and communities about the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging project is essential to enhancing public safety.

Here are just a few of the ways AGA member companies raised awareness about safe digging in their local communities:

Piedmont Natural Gas partnered with garden centers throughout its service territory in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee to tag trees and shrubs with important reminders to “Call Before You Dig.” Piedmont Natural Gas Managing Director of Safety and Community Relations Timothy Greenhouse explained, “Calling 811 is a free, easy way to avoid the inconvenience, added cost and potential injury that can result from damaging underground utilities.” For the third consecutive year, the Gardens of Blackhawk Hardware in Charlotte, N.C., worked with Piedmont and Girl Scouts from the local Hornets’ Nest Council to ensure every tree, shrub and digging tool was properly marked with a “Call Before You Dig” tag.


Piedmont Natural Gas and local Girl Scouts troops teamed up to spread awareness of Call 811 at a garden center in the utility’s service territory. Photo Credit: Piedmont Natural Gas

 Atmos Energy, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, launched the “Yard Rescue 811” social media contest on its Facebook page offering customers the chance to win a $2,000 yard makeover while raising awareness of NSDM. Participants uploaded photos of their yard at home, church, school or business engaged and the photo with the most votes won.

One of many entries in Atmos Energy’s month-long “Yard Rescue 811” social media contest. Photo Credit: Atmos Energy

One of many entries in Atmos Energy’s month-long “Yard Rescue 811” social media contest. Photo Credit: Atmos Energy

In Fresno, California, Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation (PG&E) worked with a company specializing in 3D art to create a chalkboard painting outside its office that depicted what it might look like if you were to dig just a few feet beneath your yard, including a natural gas pipeline, electric power lines and other buried utilities.

Special 3D artists create realistic chalk drawing of what it may look like when you dig in your own backyard. Photo Credit: PG&E

Special 3D artists create realistic chalk drawing of what it may look like when you dig in your own backyard. Photo Credit: PG&E

PG&E also spread the message of safe digging procedures with a new television spot featuring an employee who locates and marks underground utilities for customers and contractors in its service territory:

The PG&E Damage Prevention Center hosted a free 811 Contractor Safety Training course beneficial for both novice and experienced contractors. Topics included how to use the Call 811 service, excavation laws in California and steps to planning a safe digging project.

In addition, many other natural gas utilities spread awareness about NSDM through news releases, social media, advertisements, community events and more.

By far, the largest event surrounding Call 811 was this past weekend’s 141st Kentucky Derby. Thanks to the sponsorship of CGA and more than 30 of its member organizations, renowned jockey Victor Espinoza once again sported the 811 logo as he raced to victory for the second consecutive year. A record breaking 170,000 spectators at Churchill Downs and an estimated TV audience of 15 million viewers around the world were reminded of the importance to “Call 811 Before You Dig.“ We look forward to cheering on Victor and horse American Pharaoh as they take on the next leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, on May 16. Follow AGA on Twitter and Facebook for updates about the race and Call 811.

Victor Espinoza winners circle

Victor Espinoza celebrates his second consecutive Kentucky Derby win. Photo Credit: CNN

If you’d like to share your organization’s recent event or campaign surrounding Call 811, please comment in the section below or email  We’re happy to share your story.

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