This past Monday, August 11, marked the Common Ground Alliance’s (CGA)’s annual National 811 Day to promote safe digging awareness and the Call Before You Dig campaign. 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 local natural gas utilities and other stakeholders.
Every year, as part of their commitment to safety, AGA’s member companies, the local natural gas utilities of America, educate customers and community members throughout the nation about the importance of locating pipelines before starting construction projects, planting or undertaking any kind of digging activity. Here are some highlights from the many activities that took place earlier this week:
- Baltimore Gas & Electric lit up downtown Baltimore with an impressive 811 window light display.
- Consumers Energy took to social media to share a cute image of a dog digging a hole in the ground, to remind customers to call 811 before beginning any digging projects, big or small. One Facebook fan commented that she had never heard of 811 prior to the posting.
- Atmos Energy teamed up with Texas 811 to hold the first 811 Day Extravaganza in Plano, Texas. More than 100 city officials, EMS workers and firefighters participated in hands-on digging demonstrations and roundtable discussions focused on safe digging practices. Watch video footage from the event here and view a photo gallery on Atmos Energy’s Facebook page.
- Columbia Gas of Virginia kicked off the week by participating in several National Night Out events across the state, as well as Home Depot events, promoting 811 and pipeline safety. They also reached out to the public via customer emails, radio and digital ads, and a press release. Employees enjoyed 811 cake during meetings dedicated to safety.
- Xcel Energy created a new and unique Call Before You Dig video and promoted it on YouTube and across their social media pages. The video, featuring a bearded fairy dressed in cut-off shorts and a tutu,received more than 1,600 views and the Facebook posts reached more than 136,000 people in less than 24 hours.
- At Nicor Gas – AGL Resources, staff members partnered with the Aurora Junior Woman’s Club to present an 811 Day Flash Mob in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture (a.k.a. “The Bean”) in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Over 50 dancers performed “Bright Lines” to the tune of Robin Thicke’s hit-song “Blurred Lines.”
Can’t wait another year for 811 Day? Every April is National Safe Digging Month(NSDM). Many utility companies air PSAs and TV spots, and carry out social media campaigns to promote safe digging, especially during planting season. In the meantime, you can make sure to urge your customers, friends and family to make the 811 Promise. Let us know about your future Call 811 activities in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what your utility has in the works!
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.
In 2015, the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) will again co-locate at the Las Vegas Convention Center to create Design and Construction Week. The two events will remain separate and distinct shows held simultaneously, January 20 – 22, 2015. One badge will provide access to all the exhibits with an estimated 90,000 attendees.
As these build and design professionals enter the exhibition hall, the natural gas industry exhibit will be one of the first exhibits they see. This 2,500-square-foot exhibit will be the result of an important partnership between AGA members and manufacturers of gas appliances demonstrating the latest, most innovative technologies available to consumers.
In 2015, AGA will be the energy sponsor of The New American Home (TNAH). Since 1984, TNAH has served as the official show home of IBS. The home’s design, construction and amenities showcase the latest in innovative products for the future of home building. TNAH will feature 18 natural gas appliances in 2015.
The construction market continues to show signs of recovery and IBS exhibitor space sales has outpaced last year with more than 400,000-square-feet sold. If you are interested in supporting the natural gas industry efforts at IBS as a volunteer or manufacturer, please contact Tracy Burleson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.