Category Archives: safety

Lisa Dundon AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in Tutu

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:

  • 811 building BGE 300x199 AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in TutuBaltimore 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.
  • 811 flash mob 300x171 AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in TutuAt 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!

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Lisa Dundon Monday is National 811 Day – Call Before You Dig

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.811 2color 300x300 Monday is National 811 Day   Call Before You Dig

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.

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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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