Monday, August 11, marks the Common Ground Alliance (CGA)’s National 811 Day to promote safe digging awareness and the Call Before You Dig campaign. A call to 811, which should be done a few days before beginning construction projects, planting or undertaking any kind of digging activity, connects you to a local One Call Center which gathers information about the project and alerts your local utility company. Crews then locate the utility lines near the planned project and make sure they are properly marked so you can be sure to avoid them. The process is fast, simple and free.
Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States, though improvement is being made thanks to outreach efforts on the part of natural gas utilities, industry leaders and other stakeholders. This past spring, millions of people were introduced to Call 811 when CGA members sponsored the jockey and horse team of Victor Espinoza and California Chrome during the race for the Triple Crown. Espinoza donned the Call 811 logo on the side and back of his pants, as well as his turtleneck, riding boots and the ball cap he wore before and after each race. Espinoza also spread the important safety message on his official Twitter page and his many TV appearances. The day after the third and final face, the Belmont Stakes, visits to Call811.com were up 334 percent and web search was up 596 percent.
AGA will be helping to spread safe digging awareness on Call 811 Day through social media and blog posts on True Blue Natural Gas.
Find out what might be going on in your area to mark 811 Day by checking in with CGA or your local natural gas utility. And don’t for get to make the 811 Promise and tell your family, friends and neighbors.
If you’re a utility, let us know what you have planned in the comments section below and we may feature your activities in an upcoming post. In the meantime, make sure to urge your customers to make the 811 Promise.
Posted in 811, community, energy, Natural Gas, safety
Tagged 811 Day, Call 811, Call Before You Dig, CGA, Common Ground Alliance, Safe Digging, safety
As the energy industry workforce continues to mature, a large number of employees are set to retire in the next five to 10 years. While efforts are underway to recruit and train younger replacements for these workers, utilities must plan for that transition and retain know-how.
The cover story for the August/September issue of American Gas magazine, titled “The Aging Workforce,” addresses several issues facing the industry as much of their workforce transitions to retirement and new employees enter the workforce. In this article several experts weigh in on topics including workforce planning, knowledge transfer and pension obligations.
While many utilities are using workforce analytics to understand when individuals are going to retire, they face the challenge of capturing knowledge and sharing it with future employees. Ken Mall with EDSI Consulting, a workforce development, customized training and consulting company, provides some basic steps all organizations should consider in defining their knowledge management priorities and creating a plan to meet those future needs.
Royce Kosoff, a senior consulting actuary with Towers Watson addresses the growing pension obligations utilities are facing. With more than one-third of U.S. utilities slowing the growth by moving new employees to 401K plans, some have taken an additional step of freezing the accruals for employees. Kosoff shares other steps to reduce the current risk exposure of pension plans.
To read the full article, click here. To see more from the August/September issue of the magazine, click here.
The end of July has brought with it softening natural gas prices, the result of a confluence of supply and demand elements. Only a few months ago, some analysts questioned whether natural gas storage levels would be able to make a comeback following an 11-year record low for inventories at the end of the winter season. Today, we see natural gas volumes injected into storage at rates not seen in more than a decade and prices in the sub $4 range. Modest temperatures, seasonally low power generation load requirements, and record natural gas production are all ingredients into this summer’s recipe for relatively low Henry Hub prices and the supply position in which the country now finds itself immersed. That said, there still remains two months of summer, three months in the underground storage injection season, and an Atlantic hurricane season that has just gotten underway. Factors to keep an eye on include an uptick in temperatures; natural gas requirements for power generation; dry gas production flows; and supply issues related to disruptive weather events, such as storms in the Gulf of Mexico. However, even if one or more of these possibilities materializes, the US is still in a strong supply position – a fact that the market may be taking into account.
This week, AGA member company NW Natural launched a new online tool designed to help the utility’s nearly 700,000 customers in Oregon and southwest Washington save energy and money.
The Energy Analyzer, available through NW Natural’s website, begins with a series of questions about customers’ energy use, including how much money they want to invest in potential projects. Once this step is completed, customers receive a wide range of suggestions to help improve the efficiency of their home based on varying factors including time, skill, budget and energy they’d like to save.
Developed with the help of the Energy Trust of Oregon, the Energy Analyzer also assists customers in comparing the amount of energy they use to similar homes in the surrounding area. Users can also sign up to receive ongoing e-mails reminding them to finish the energy-saving projects they’ve self-selected.
“Our customers are paying less for natural gas than they did 10 years ago,” said Cory Beck, NW Natural Communications & Internet Services Manager. “But, they can save even more money and energy when they take steps to improve the efficiency of their home.”
Customers who test out the Energy Analyzer from now through September 5 will automatically be entered into a contest to win a tankless water heater. Visit www.nwnatural.com for complete contest rules.