Category Archives: technology

Lisa Dundon PSEG to Award $160,000 in Grants to Further STEM Education in New Jersey

How would your non-profit educational organization like to receive thousands of dollars in grants this summer? The Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) Foundation is currently accepting applications from afterschool, summer and youth development programs to develop new or enhance existing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational opportunities for students.

The PSEG Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AGA member company PSEG, will consider applications from their New Jersey service territory, as well as Salem and Cumberland counties, and the service and operation territories in Long Island and Albany, New York, as well as Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut.

Each proposal will be evaluated based on the following factors:

  • Focus on academic enrichment with already existing programming
  • Strong, relevant and inspiring STEM content with focus on hands-on, experiential learning
  • Emphasis on the application and mastery of problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills
  • Number of students served
  • A commitment to continuous improvement, with a focus on outcomes and evaluation
  • Demonstrated level of involvement with local schools and/or families
  • Capacity to implement and sustain new programming
  • Demonstrated program sustainability

The Foundation anticipates awarding funding to eight organizations, although the number of recipients and their award amount will be decided based on the strength of the proposals received at the discretion of Foundation staff. Applications must be completed and submitted by Friday, August 15 at 5 p.m. EST. All applicants will receive notification about funding decisions in late September 2014.

Applicants interested in applying can do so directly through PSEG’s online application by clicking here. Check back with the AGA blog later this fall for an update on all the winning organizations.

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Lisa Dundon NW Natural Launches Online Tool to Assist Customers with Saving Energy and Money

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.

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Christina Nyquist Natural Gas in a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow: Natural Gas Utilities Support National Building Safety Month

With its domestic abundance, efficiency and low emissions profile, natural gas has an important role in supporting safe and sustainable homes and businesses throughout the nation. Day in and day out, more than 177 million Americans rely on natural gas for heating, cooling, hot water, cooking and more. AGA and its member companies are dedicated to continually enhancing the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas to America’s buildings, as well as to helping customers understand how to maximize their energy usage, and that’s why AGA is proud to be next week’s (May 26-31) sponsor of the International Code Council’s Building Safety Month.

Building Safety Month 1 Natural Gas in a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow: Natural Gas Utilities Support National Building Safety MonthWith the theme “Building a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow,” AGA is sharing information on the extraordinary efficiency of natural gas, the benefits of using natural gas directly in home appliances, and tips on how customers can achieve even greater savings for their wallet and the planet. For instance, did you know:

  • When used directly, natural gas achieves 92 percent energy efficiency.
  • A household with natural gas vs. all-electric appliances produces 37 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions and results in 28 percent less energy consumption.
  • Natural gas appliances for home heating can help customers cut their energy bills in half.

While simply converting to natural gas can help consumers save on their monthly utility bills, natural gas utilities are committed to helping their customers save even more. Your local utility can suggest how to weatherize your home or business, how to reduce energy consumption, and may even offer rebates and discounts on energy efficient appliances and home or building efficiency improvements. In 2012, utilities invested $1.1 billion in natural gas efficiency programs that helped customers reduce their typical annual natural gas usage by an average 16 percent and save $117 in annual energy costs – in total saving 136 trillion Btu of energy and offsetting 7.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. You can find more information about energy efficiency and natural gas utilities here.

Building Safety Month 2 Natural Gas in a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow: Natural Gas Utilities Support National Building Safety MonthUtilities are focused on the safe and reliable delivery of this foundation fuel to millions of Americans every day, and safety is the top priority for AGA and its members. The industry continues to take action to further enhance the safety and reliability of its systems. The industry has multiple safeguards in place to protect their customers, and they work to spread public awareness messages so that customers can actively participate in the safety of their homes, businesses and communities. Here’s how you can help ensure your safety around natural gas:

  • Properly maintain gas appliances and fuel lines.
  • Call 811 before embarking on any excavation or digging project – even planting.
  • Report the smell of natural gas to your local natural gas utility. Utilities odorize natural gas with Mercaptan – which smells similar to rotten eggs – to help customers detect leaks.
  • Be attentive to safety communications provided by your utility.
  • Help your kids understand natural gas safety with resources like AGA’s Kids Safety Video.

More information on Building Safety Month and Natural Gas:

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Christina Nyquist Energy Utilities Work to Serve the Modern Customer

From smart meters to mobile devices and social media, joined with transformations in energy production, revolutions in technology have created boundless new opportunities for utilities to interact with, understand and serve their customers even more reliably, safely and efficiently. As companies innovate and enhance the customer experience across all sectors, utilities are charged with meeting and surpassing customer expectations driven by leading brands. With this transformed landscape in mind, more than 400 natural gas and electric utility professionals gathered in San Francisco last week to help enhance the customer experience for energy users throughout the nation. The 2014 Customer Service Conference and Exposition, co-hosted by the American Gas Association and the Edison Electric Institute, featured two and a half days of presentations, 60 exhibitors, breakout sessions and workshops focused on how to better meet customer needs and expectations in a changing energy and technology world.

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Utility customer service professionals gather for the AGA/EEI Customer Service Conference General Session.

Utilities and their employees are an integral link between our nation’s energy resources and homes and businesses throughout the nation, making a smooth energy customer experience a vital underpinning of a healthy economy. As part of their commitment to safe and reliable energy delivery, utilities are dedicated to helping ensure their customers are able to access the information and resources they need to better understand how to use energy wisely and safely, manage their energy costs, prepare for storms and outages and get the best possible value from their energy delivery service.

Thanks to constant innovations in information, communications and energy delivery technology, customers have more ways than ever to access information, manage their energy use and communicate with their local utility. Utilities also have access to an unprecedented amount of data and communications channels that can help them better understand and serve their customers’ needs. This new “data deluge” combined with today’s changing energy landscape provides opportunities and challenges for utilities, customer service professionals and customers. Conference participants heard from industry leaders and panels discussing these changes, what the future holds for utilities and how to meet and exceed customer expectations for decades to come.

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AGA Customer Service Committee Chair Kathy Kerr, New Jersey Natural Gas, moderates a panel discussing the Utility-Customer Business Model Evolution. L-R: Mike Hazelton, Georgia Power; Gregg Knight, CenterPoint Energy; Dave Williams, NW Natural

Afternoon breakout sessions followed the general sessions, where participants could fous on issues impacting their specific area of customer contact. These sessions examined addressing more effective meter reading and data collection processes, streamlining billing and payment processing, exploring innovative ways to assist low-income and at-risk customers, managing and modernizing call centers, and enhancing outage and restoration communications. Across the board, participants noted the potential for increased information and communication capabilities to transform the utility-customer relationship.

Meeting and exceeding their customers’ need for safe and reliable energy delivery has been the core mission of natural gas utilities for more than a century. America’s natural gas utilities will continue their historically excellent record of service as they leverage the opportunities of the future.

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