Category Archives: energy

Jackie Bavaro Comprehensive Study Explores the Benefits of Expanding Natural Gas Service to the Growing Inventory of Multifamily Buildings

Today, the American Gas Foundation released a study published by ICF International titled, “Expanding Natural Gas Service to Multifamily Buildings,” focusing on ways in which state and local government, natural gas utilities, and other interest groups have worked to improve access to natural gas service in multifamily structures in their localities. The study assesses regulatory or policy barriers to providing natural gas service to multi-unit structures, and presents possible solutions to help bring the benefits of natural gas to the owners and occupants of these buildings.

In the past decade, multifamily construction has risen from less than 25 percent to one-worldthird or more of newly-built residential dwelling units. Notably, if natural gas technologies were applied across all or part of the nation’s multifamily building stock, unit occupants could realize $2.2 billion in reduced annual energy bills, or about six percent of total energy expenditure for multifamily units in the U.S. Additionally, CO2 emissions would be reduced by more than 20 million tons, nationwide.

To that end, multifamily construction is projected to sustain a high share of new housing construction over the next 20 years. This will include enormous benefits for providing access to natural gas in multifamily buildings—both for the environment and the bottom line of the residents that live there. Understanding that multifamily buildings are made up of a wide-range of building types with unique characteristics and needs is critical when looking to expand natural gas service to this growing market.

The study also highlights utility-led initiatives that have demonstrated success, and describe lessons learned through these efforts to provide insight to other utilities with similar goals to serve these communities.

You can view the report along with the case studies here.

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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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