Category Archives: energy

Jackie Bavaro AGA Members Celebrate National 811 Day

On August 11, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) along with the American Gas Association (AGA) and its member companies celebrated National 811 Day to promote safe digging practices and the national Call Before You Dig campaign.

811 is the national telephone number that initiates the process of marking the underground utility lines in a homeowner’s yard. Whether you’re planting a tree, building a deck or installing a fence, a call to 811 is legally required before you are scheduled to begin any type of digging. Due in large part to the work done by the pipeline industry in promoting the use of Call 811, excavation damages for all underground facilities have decreased by approximately 50 percent since 2004.

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PHMSA and AGA employees celebrate 811 Day at Nationals stadium.

As part of the CGA’s National 811 Day, AGA member companies and many companies that build, operate and maintain underground pipelines and wires held events and promoted awareness to alert the public about this important service. This year, AGA staff joined representatives from Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at a Washington Nationals baseball game where Call 811 was the sponsor and messages about calling before you dig could be seen throughout the stadium.

Columbia Gas of Ohio: Ground is officially broken with City of Gahanna with Pat Tiberi and Mayor Kneeland on 811 Day.

Columbia Gas of Ohio: Ground is officially broken with City of Gahanna with Pat Tiberi and Mayor Kneeland on 811 Day.

Additionally, Columbia Gas of Ohio, which has responded to a report of a damaged line more than 750 times this year alone, has asked communities across the state to pledge a simple promise to call 811 at least two business days before digging any project. Meanwhile, South Jersey Gas hosted its first 811 Day ‘Dig Safe Fair’ to inform local contractors and community members about safe digging best practices. Also, in partnership with National Grid, Dig Safely New York hosted a live demonstration on a mark out of underground utility lines at an active construction site in its Eastwood neighborhood.

Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States. Though improvement is being made, thanks in large part to the outreach efforts of AGA member companies, industry leaders and other stakeholders on this issue. If you are a utility and have a unique and interesting way you’re promoting Call 811, let us know in the comments section below or by emailing Jackie Bavaro at jbavaro@aga.org.

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Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Utilities Working through Differences and Overcoming Cultural Barriers

The cover story for the August/September issue of American Gas magazine titled, “Working through Differences,” explores how a diverse workforce can encourage innovation and overcome cultural barriers, especially as women and minorities begin to make up a large part of the energy workforce.

A report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute indicates that by 2035, the energy workforce, with its retirements and expanded growth in the industry, will create 1.9 million direct jobs. More than a half million of these new jobs are projected to be filled by minorities over the next decade and a half.

augcoverFostering a dynamic and inclusive work environment starts with attracting talented and diverse employees. To that end, Con Edison of New York has set the groundwork for new diversity and inclusion strategies in 2015. Recently, the company has helped area colleges with large minority populations align its courses with industry needs and even helped found Energy Tech, a grade 9 to 12 career technical school in Queens, New York that focuses on STEM classes. Con Edison has also worked with National Grid to create a natural gas boot camp for returning veterans looking for entry-level work and mid-level mechanic positions. It has also sponsored internships for college and high school students with 114 co-op students hired in 2015.

In addition, Nicor Gas has been working on bringing more women into the engineering field. The company recently hosted the Society of Women Engineers at its Naperville, Illinois office to discuss why women are still vastly underrepresented in the engineering field, and even more so in the gas and oil industries. Cultural shifts at companies where diversity is woven into the fabric have been a key component in developing a successful method to embracing change in the workplace.

Take for example Public Service Electric and Gas Co., who have partnered with other New Jersey utilities and organizations to offer a career awareness program, developed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development, called Women in Sustainable Employment Pathways. This program helps participants prepare for fields in the trades that they may not have seen themselves in previously. Women work on resumes, team building, conflict resolution, networking, interviewing and applications throughout a 40-hour course and then interview for a desired position at the end of the program.

One advantage of having an inclusive workforce is improved customer service when dealing with an increasingly diverse customer base. This lends itself to fostering different perspectives among leadership and ultimately leads to better solutions for ratepayers. Please let us know in the comments below how your company is implementing ways to create a more inclusive and diverse work environment.

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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 Liquefied Natural Gas Poised to Make its Mark in the Global Energy Arena

The cover story for the June issue of American Gas magazine, titled, “Taking the Global Stage,” examines the current state of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market and the opportunity for significant growth around the world.

The global LNG industry plays a key role in expanding access to an energy resource that will help achieve a lower-carbon future, cleaner air in metropolitan areas and a prosperousJune Capture economic outlook. Yet, over the next two years, new LNG supplies combined with weaker economic growth, increased competition from competing fuels and drastically lower oil prices may place downward pressure on LNG prices.

Despite these barriers, the global, social and political groundswell demonstrated by the COP21 agreements in Paris, France last November indicated that LNG can be a critical part of the future global energy mix.

Currently, the United States, which is now shipping from the lower 48 states with Cheniere’s first commissioning cargo in late February, has been reaching across the globe with its exports. The impact has rippled throughout the domestic natural gas industry. As a result, U.S.-based LNG companies have relationships with companies in many LNG-consuming countries with the ability to sell to eager buyers worldwide. New trade options are also opening up with the proliferation of emerging LNG markets in Australia, Southeast Asia, the Baltic states, Latin America and even the Middle East. In the short term, sellers will focus on Europe as a market for their excess volumes of LNG in 2016.

Last year marked the largest trade year in the history of the LNG industry. As a result, close to 10 percent of the world’s demand for natural gas is now met through LNG. A big year for trade paired with new import markets and a handful of liquefaction projects reaching final investment decision means global LNG is on the rise.

You can read the full American Gas article here.

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