Category Archives: education

Lisa O'Leary National Safe Digging Month Begins

NSDM%20her%20#1

Image Courtesy Common Ground Alliance

This April marks the ninth annual National Safe Digging Month (NSDM), an initiative put in place by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) to raise awareness about safe digging practices and the importance of calling 811 to prevent accidents, property damage and outages.

Before you embark on any excavation project big or small, be sure to dial 811 to be connected to your local One Call Center which will gather information 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. Both the call and the service are fast, simple and free.

Construction and digging damage is the leading cause of pipeline incidents across the country, most of which can be prevented if proper protocol is followed. Thanks in large part to the work being done by CGA and AGA-member natural gas utilities to promote “Call 811,” excavation damages for all underground facilities have drastically decreased by approximately 50 percent since 2004.

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 Twitter, Facebook 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.

Posted in 811, education, safety | Comments Off on National Safe Digging Month Begins

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 loleary@aga.org.

Posted in 811, community, education, energy, events, Natural Gas, people, safety | Comments Off on AGA Members Draw Awareness to Safe Digging on 811 Day

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.

Posted in 811, community, education, Natural Gas, people, safety, technology, video | Comments Off on Atmos Energy Receives First Annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence Award

Jake Rubin Understanding Your Natural Gas Bill

More than 177 million Americans use natural gas to cook a hot meal, heat their water or warm their houses. Many parts of the country have felt the chill of winter and that means folks are using more natural gas. The American Gas Association has developed a video to explain what goes into your natural gas bill.

Your bill is essentially comprised of three parts:

  1. Gas you used: Often, the largest part of your bill is based on the amount of natural gas you use each month. The United States has an abundance of clean natural gas and that has led to stable and affordable prices. Utilities do not make a profit on the gas they deliver to your home or business.
  2.  Delivery cost: The public utility commission, a group of elected or appointed officials, sets the rate that your utility can charge each month. Included in this cost is maintenance, upgrades of the pipes that deliver natural gas to your home or businesses and everything else that is needed to help ensure safe and reliable delivery of natural gas.
  3.  Local, state and federal taxes.

During the 2013-14 Winter Heating Season, the natural gas delivery system in the United States achieved historic levels of performance. More natural gas was delivered through more pipelines to more customers than ever before, and customer bills remained affordable. Residential customer bills increased only 10 percent on average from the prior winter – an increase mostly due to higher consumption.

AGA expects relatively warmer temperatures this winter based on information from the climate Prediction Center, which may lead to a reduction in demand. Natural gas prices are likely to be slightly higher, resulting in an increase in customer bills of about seven percent this winter.

Promise Delivered is an AGA study of the planning, preparation and performance of the natural gas system during the 2013-14 Winter Heating Season. Utilities work all year to prepare for the possibility of extreme temperatures and employ a portfolio approach to help ensure they can meet the needs of their customers at affordable prices on the coldest days of the year. Before last year’s extraordinary winter concluded, they were already preparing for this winter cycle.

Posted in appliances, education, energy, Natural Gas, people, utility, weather, winter heating | Comments Off on Understanding Your Natural Gas Bill