Category Archives: safety

Lisa Dundon Better Business Bureau Recognizes CenterPoint Energy’s Commitment to Ethical Behavior

AGA member CenterPoint Energy was awarded last month with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) International Torch Award for Ethics, presented by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, recognizing businesses exhibiting outstanding ethical practices.

Candidates for this inaugural award had to have previously won their local Torch Award for Ethics, which CenterPoint Energy did in October 2013 in the largest business category by the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. In 2012, CenterPoint Energy was also named to the BBB Centennial Honor Roll, which salutes century-old companies that have supported BBB for most or all of its history.

CenterPointEnergy Jean Krause Better Business Bureau Recognizes CenterPoint Energy’s Commitment to Ethical Behavior

CenterPoint Energy Community Relations Director Jean Krause accepts the BBB International Torch Award for Ethics.
Image courtesy of CenterPoint Energy.

According to the BBB, the international award judges were impressed with CenterPoint Energy’s commitment to employees and ethical behavior. Each of the utility’s employees are required to take at least one continuing education course related to ethics each year. The judges also said they appreciated CenterPoint Energy’s motto, “Operating ethically is simply what we do.”

“This award reflects our employees’ commitment to providing safe and reliable service to our customers and communities every day,” said Joe Vortherms, Vice President of CenterPoint Energy Gas Operations in Minnesota. “We’re proud to say that we’ve been doing it for more than 140 years.”

AGA congratulates CenterPoint Energy on this prestigious international recognition for ethical behavior, as well as their continued commitment to safety, integrity and reliability.

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Christina Nyquist Calling on Congress to Help Low-Income Natural Gas Customers

Senate to Set LIHEAP Funding Levels This Week

This week, the U.S. Senate will make key decisions regarding the ability of vulnerable energy customers to meet their basic home heating and cooling needs. Since 2010, funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has dropped by nearly $2 billion and the President’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 calls for just $2.8 billion – less than half of the $5.1 billion allocated in FY2010. Even when LIHEAP was funded at $5.1 billion, that amount was only enough to assist one in five eligible Americans.

Today, June 10, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which funds the LIHEAP program, will mark up their Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations spending bill, setting target funding levels for LIHEAP and other critical programs. The Senate Full Appropriations Committee is then expected to take up the bill on Thursday, June 12.

The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEAUC), AGA and low-income energy assistance supporters are calling on Congress to help ensure that all Americans can access essential energy to support their daily needs. AGA has signed a multi-party NEAUC letter, which will be delivered to every member of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Are you a low-income assistance organization or a utility representative? Sign the multi-party letter here.

You can help spread the word through social media or by contacting your representatives. AGA and NEAUC are sharing messages on Twitter at @AGA_naturalgas and @liheapcampaign using the hashtag #LIHEAP. Make sure to mention @SenateApprops in your tweets.

LIHEAP funding FY 2004 2014 Calling on Congress to Help Low Income Natural Gas Customers

Photo Credit: Center for American Progress

With U.S. Census data showing that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty and that the average low- and fixed-income family spends 13.5 percent of its annual income on energy – nearly twice the 7.2 percent spent by the average U.S. household – the need for sufficient LIHEAP funding is great.

AGA and America’s local natural gas utilities are committed to helping all customers meet their energy needs through efficiency programs and bill payment assistance. In 2012, utilities contributed nearly $3.7 billion in assistance to low-income customers – roughly equal to the $3.47 billion provided in LIHEAP funding that year. This assistance included discounted rates, arrearage forgiveness, weatherization and efficiency programs, and support to charitable organizations that provide resources for customers in need. Utilities also spent $1.1 billion in natural gas efficiency programs for all customers in 2012, helping homes and businesses reduce their typical annual natural gas usage by an average 16 percent and save $117 in annual energy costs.

You can find more information about LIHEAP in a 2014 report, Investing in LIHEAP, and individual state factsheets detailing funding scenarios, demographic information and the number of households served.

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Christina Nyquist Natural Gas Utilities Engage Communities to Promote 811, Safety Awareness

Today marks the last day of National Safe Digging Month. All April long, throughout the nation, local natural gas utilities have taken creative steps to spread the word about safe excavation practices. Damage from construction and digging activity is the leading cause of pipeline incidents, so communicating with customers and communities about the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging project is essential to enhancing public safety. Efforts surrounding safe digging have contributed to a nearly 50 percent decline in excavation damages to underground facilities since 2004. Here are just a few of the ways AGA member companies raised awareness about safe digging in their local communities.

North Carolina-based Piedmont Natural Gas teamed with garden centers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee to tag trees and shrubs with reminders to “Call Before You Dig.” Piedmont Natural Gas Managing Director of Safety and Community Relations Timothy Greenhouse explained, “We know people are eager to get started on gardening and landscaping projects after the long winter we’ve had, but calling 811 is a free, easy way to avoid the inconvenience, added cost and potential injury that can result from damaging underground utilities.” At the Gardens of Blackhawk Hardware in Charlotte, N.C., Girl Scouts from the local Hornets Nest Council worked with garden center employees to make sure every customer buying a tree, shrub or bush or digging tool received a “Call Before You Dig” tag.

PNG 2 300x199 Natural Gas Utilities Engage Communities to Promote 811, Safety Awareness

Piedmont Natural Gas employees demonstrate safe digging practices with local Girl Scouts at National Safe Digging Month awareness event. Credit: Piedmont Natural Gas

Atmos Energy, headquartered in Dallas, Tex., engaged social media to launch its “iDig It” campaign. The utility offered participants the chance to win $811 by snapping and submitting photos of clearly marked digging sites in their communities and sharing them on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #iDigIt. Atmos also released a new 811 awareness video at the end of March.

In Fresno, Calif., Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation joined the Fresno City Council, the Fresno Fire Department and the Mayor of Madera for a safe digging awareness rally, where participants wrapped 100 stickers around trees that were given away to anyone who pledged to call 811 before digging. In addition to spreading safety awareness, the event added 100 new trees to the city’s landscape. PG&E also hosted weekly safety events at Home Depot stores throughout its service territory throughout the month, where PG&E employees spoke with shoppers about the importance of safe digging. Attendees and their children also played safety games and observed some of the innovative tools PG&E is using to supply customers with safe and reliable gas and electricity.

598x270 811 home depot 4 Natural Gas Utilities Engage Communities to Promote 811, Safety Awareness

PG&E’s Dan Kalendar, left, and Joe Sutton demonstrated the interactive gas safety board for customers at a Home Depot Safe Digging Awareness event. Credit: PG&E

The team here at AGA developed and released a “Kids and Natural Gas Safety” video designed to appeal to younger audiences to help educate them about all aspects of living with natural gas.

Many other natural gas utilities throughout the nation spread awareness about National Safe Digging Month through news releases, social media, advertisements, community events and more. Safety is the top priority for AGA and its member companies. Along with the industry’s dedicated efforts to enhance the safety of its systems, growing public awareness about natural gas safety is an essential part of helping to ensure Americans can enjoy the benefits of domestic, abundant natural gas for decades to come.

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Lori Traweek AGA Marks National Safe Digging Month with Natural Gas Video for Children

Safety is the top priority for the American Gas Association (AGA) and our more than 200 member companies across the country. It is the very reason AGA co-founded the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an organization dedicated to educating professionals and homeowners about the importance of following safe digging procedures, in 2000.

811logowithshovel 227x300 AGA Marks National Safe Digging Month with Natural Gas Video for ChildrenThis April marks the seventh annual National Safe Digging Month, an initiative put in place by the CGA to remind the public to “Call Before You Dig” to determine where your underground utility lines are located before beginning any digging project. To get started, dial 811 to be connected to your local One Call Center which will gather information about the project 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. The process is fast, simple and free.

People digging often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked due to concerns about project delays, costs and previous calls about other projects. These assumptions can be life-threatening.

Every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees or shrubs. If you hit an underground utility line while digging, you can harm yourself or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood and potentially be responsible for fines and repair costs.

According to the CGA, excavation damages for all underground facilities have decreased by approximately 50 percent since 2004, thanks in large part to the engaging and innovative outreach of “Call 811” campaigns by local natural gas utilities.

Promoting safe digging awareness is just one of the many ways America’s natural gas utilities continuously work to keep communities safe and to help ensure our distribution and transmission system continues to be the safest and most reliable method of delivering energy in the nation.

In conjunction with this month’s focus on safety, AGA released a YouTube video today to help educate youth about the importance of natural gas safety in the home. The animated video, aimed at elementary and middle school aged children, explains which appliances use natural gas, how to identify a natural gas leak and what to do if a leak occurs. These key safety messages are not only critical to family and caregivers, but the next generation of utility customers. Feel free to share the video on your company’s social media platforms.

video screen shot with play button 300x204 AGA Marks National Safe Digging Month with Natural Gas Video for Children

Click the play button above to watch the video on YouTube.

We’d also like to encourage you to share your company’s plans for National Safe Digging Month in the comments section below or by e-mailing ldundon@aga.org. AGA will feature member companies on our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as future blog posts throughout April.

Posted in 811, appliances, Natural Gas, people, safety, video | 1 Comment