Category Archives: community

Dave McCurdy Your Safety is Our Top Priority

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. Our customers are our friends, families and neighbors and we take every incident involving a natural gas pipeline very seriously.

The American Gas Association and our members are proud of the industry’s overall safety performance and the culture of safety that has been cultivated at each local gas utility throughout the country.

While we see news coverage about specific events, incidents on natural gas pipelines resulting in fatalities and injuries are not common. The United States has seen an approximately 40 percent decline in pipeline incidents over the past 10 years. Any injury or loss of life is tragic and the industry works every day to avoid it. These numbers include causes outside the direct control of the utility, such as people driving into gas meters, damage to the pipelines caused by excavation, customers tampering with their gas meters, appliance failures or incidents that take place within a customer’s home. These, along with weather-related events cause a great number of natural gas incidents—something that is not often included in news coverage.

We believe that one incident is too many and we are consistently looking to make improvements that will continue to enhance safety and reliability. After an incident occurs, utilities work to understand what happened and how to avoid something similar happening in the future. The industry is working with stakeholders such as firefighters, schools and building contractors on a variety of initiatives that focus on protecting customers and raising awareness of natural gas safety.

There are certain actions you can take to help mitigate the chances of a natural gas incident occurring:

1. Pay attention in order to help identify potential signs of a natural gas leak. There are several ways to detect a natural gas leak.

  • Smell: Because an odorant called mercaptan is added to natural gas by the utility to help you detect its presence, the best sign of a natural gas leak is if you smell something similar to rotten eggs.
  • Sight: Look for dirt blowing into the air, persistent bubbling in standing water, or discolored or dead vegetation around the pipeline area.
  • Sound: Listen for any unusual hissing sounds.

In the event you think you smell, see or hear any of these signs of natural gas, leave the home, building or vicinity immediately and call your natural gas utility.

Information about how to respond to a potential leak or these warning signs varies throughout the country based on a variety of factors, including climate and soil condition. To learn how transmission pipelines near you or your distribution utility addresses leaks, contact them directly.

2. Know What’s Below: Call 811 Before You Dig. Be sure to call 811 at least three full days before you perform any digging work, even if it is something as simple as planting a tree in your yard. This will allow the local utilities to come and mark the location of any underground lines so that you can avoid damaging them when you dig. Visit www.call811.com.

3. Help make sure that all those who are performing any excavation work in your neighborhood have notified 811. This would include any work done in the public right-of-way, as well as work done by individuals in their yard. If a call to 811 has been made, underground utilities in the vicinity of the excavation site will come to the site prior to the start of excavation and will mark the location of their buried facility through painted lines, flags or other markers. If a call to 811 has not been made prior to excavation, this could possibly result in damage to underground facilities, including natural gas pipelines.

4. Do not tamper with the gas meter. Use a licensed professional to perform periodic inspections of customer-owned fuel lines delivering natural gas to appliances, equipment and structures.

There are over 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipelines that serve more than 177 million Americans. The ongoing decline in pipeline incidents is due to the dedicated efforts of natural gas utilities and regulators to enhance safety programs and raise awareness about the need for active involvement by customers and communities. Natural gas utilities spend $22 billion annually to help enhance the safety of natural gas distribution and transmission systems. AGA’s member companies work together to identify and share best practices to help enhance safety and reliability.

Natural gas utilities and pipelines deliver over a quarter of the energy used every day in America and more homes and businesses use natural gas today than ever before. Those numbers continue to increase. Whether you are a customer or not, know what to look for and if you see something, say something. Working together, we can make our communities safer.

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Jackie Bavaro #FuelingOurCommunities: Helping Those in Need

Natural gas utilities across our country continue to make impressive strides when it comes to #FuelingOurCommunities. Not only are our member companies committed to delivering natural gas safely and reliably to the more than 177 million Americans who depend on it, they also place great pride in their commitment to service for every member of their communities. This month we are spotlighting Consumers Energy and its inspiring effort to combat homelessness and extend a helping hand to those in need.

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Consumers Energy volunteers participating in West Michigan United Way’s Food from the Heart initiative.

In June, Consumers Energy welcomed 184 new and returning interns at their annual summer luncheon. In order to provide a true understanding of the philanthropic nature that exists at the company, interns are encouraged to take part in Consumers Energy 9th annual Intern Challenge, a month-long service project designed specifically for interns to give back to their local communities throughout the state. This year, interns volunteered at a variety of nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Jackson Interfaith Shelter and Heart of West Michigan United Way, participating in the Food from the Heart Initiative. Participants remarked on how rewarding they found this initiative; last year, interns collected 3,500 items for food pantries and assembled 130 ready-to-prepare meals that fed 260 people eligible for assistance across Kalamazoo County.

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Consumers Energy co-workers and interns building houses to support Michigan’s Habitat for Humanity.

In addition, in 2015, Consumers Energy raised more than $215,000 to go towards Michigan nonprofits on behalf of its 547 volunteers. Specifically, the company provided more than $105,000 to 30 higher educational institutions, 16 community foundations, 55 local food banks and 14 homeless shelters. Since 2001, Consumers Energy has contributed more than $955,000 to Habitat for Humanity and pledged an additional $200,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation for its neighborhood revitalization initiative. The company believes this is a solid foundation for a long-term investment in improving the communities they work and live in.

AGA commends the remarkable efforts Consumers Energy is making to help their communities become a more vibrant and welcoming place. Please use the hashtag #FuelingOurCommunities to highlight how you and your company are giving back so we can promote your good work on our social media channels. Next month, we will be highlighting volunteer efforts geared toward taking care of the environment. Please share your initiatives with us to be featured on the True Blue Natural Gas blog.

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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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Jackie Bavaro #FuelingOurCommunities During National Volunteer Month

Throughout April, many of our member companies dedicated their time and resources to their local communities by leading community-based service projects in honor of National Volunteer Month.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company kicked-off the utility’s third-annual Month of Service employee volunteer initiative with activities that included neighborhood emergency response training, distributing food to the underserved and installing solar panels on Habitat for Humanity homes. Anchored by 11 Earth Day cleanup and restoration events in partnership with the California State Parks Foundation, the company’s Month of Service program featured more than 100 employee volunteer projects throughout Northern and Central California.

Employees of Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) celebrated the entire month of April by participating in more than 30 employee-led service projects across central Maryland, for the 10th consecutive year. In addition, BGE employees organized activities for more than 350 employees, family members and friends, which included planting community gardens, preparing food for homebound individuals and rebuilding homes.

Ameren Corporation honored National Volunteer Month by helping local communityCapture2 organizations with a range of volunteer opportunities focusing on benefiting families and promoting diversity and inclusion among community members. These projects included assisting with field events at the local Special Olympics spring games, presenting an electrical safety program at the Girl Scout Camporee in Dexter, Missouri and planting flowers at the Transgender Memorial Garden in St. Louis. These volunteer initiatives are part of the Ameren Cares program, which connects Ameren with the communities it serves through charitable giving and volunteering.

To that end, AGA employees volunteer monthly at So Other Might Eat (SOME) to continue AGA’s ongoing effort to foster a culture of giving. SOME is an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the underserved individuals of our nation’s capital. AGA is proud to support this wonderful cause and give back to our community where we are fortunate to live and work. In a similar vein, AGA staff participated in Washington Gas’ annual Earth Day Cleanup on April 16.

April has been a tremendous showcase of our industry’s community spirit. Thank you for your hard work and continuing to be true partners of the communities that you serve. Please let us know in the comments below or by using the hashtag #fuelingourcommunities to highlight how you’re giving back in 2016.

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