Category Archives: technology

Lisa O'Leary Atmos Energy Receives First Annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence Award

While natural gas utilities are dedicated to enhancing the safety of their operations, public awareness is a critical part of safe natural gas delivery. Finding effective ways to spread safety messages goes a long way toward ensuring that everyone can safely enjoy the benefits of natural gas.

This year, the American Gas Association (AGA) held our first annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence (SAVE) Award, recognizing the outstanding contributions utilities across the country make in advancing natural gas safety communications.

(From L-R: Ronald Bradley, VP, Gas Operations, PECO Energy and AGA Operations Conference Chairman; Michael Haefner, Executive VP, Atmos Energy; Jeff Knights, VP, Technical Services - Mid-Texas Division, Atmos Energy; Christina Sames, VP, Operations & Engineering, AGA)

(From L-R: Ronald Bradley, VP, Gas Operations, PECO Energy and AGA Operations Conference Chairman; Michael Haefner, Executive VP, Atmos Energy; Jeff Knights, VP, Technical Services – Mid-Texas Division, Atmos Energy; Christina Sames, VP, Operations & Engineering, AGA)

AGA is pleased to announce the 2015 overall award recipient is Atmos Energy for their video submission, “Do You Dig It? Always Call Before You Dig”.  We’d also like to congratulate Co Serve for receiving the most public votes on AGA’s Facebook page for its “Mr. Diggs Gets the 411 on 811 (Armadillo Whisperer)” video.

AGA received many great submissions, and we encourage everyone to check them out on AGA’s YouTube channel by clicking on the “AGA Safety Video Award Submissions 2015″ playlist. Details about the 2016 SAVE Award will be posted on AGA’s website at a later date. In the meantime, share the creative ways your company is spreading natural gas safety messages in the comments section below and you may be featured in an upcoming AGA blog post.

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Christina Nyquist Meeting the Needs of the Modern Natural Gas Customer

2015 EEI/AGA Customer Service Conference Explores the Opportunities and Challenges of the Digital Age

Did you know that the average American home has 26 appliances? Since Robert Bunsen invented the first natural gas burner in 1885, we’ve come to rely on a diverse array of household tools to provide essential daily needs like heating, cooling, cooking and bathing. Our dependence on these appliances makes seamless energy delivery critical, and energy utilities are dedicated to meeting the needs of their customers.

For decades, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI)/American Gas Association (AGA) Customer Service Conference has been the leading energy utility customer service conference in the world, bringing together energy and natural gas utility professionals to discuss ways to better serve customers and enhance energy delivery. At this year’s conference in Washington, D.C., the core tradition of reliably and safely delivering energy while providing excellent service remained the theme, as attendees discussed how to leverage and manage technology to further enhance the modern customer experience.

AGA Senior Vice President and COO Lori Traweek speaks on panel discussing “Perspectives on Utility Customer Service in the Future.” L-R: Charles Dickerson, Pepco; Tanya Hudson, Washington Gas; Rick Tempchin, EEI; The Honorable Branko Terzic, FinMetrix LP.

AGA Senior Vice President and COO Lori Traweek speaks on panel discussing “Perspectives on Utility Customer Service in the Future.” L-R: Charles Dickerson, Pepco; Tanya Hudson, Washington Gas; Rick Tempchin, EEI; The Honorable Branko Terzic, FinMetrix LP.

Today’s technology landscape has changed the way we use energy, as well as customers’ expectations for interacting with their local utilities. Attendees heard from panels and participated in workshops on leading customer service practices and emerging trends, challenges and opportunities, with remarks from industry leaders including AGA Chairman and President and CEO of WGL Holdings, Inc. Terry McCallister and AGA COO and Senior Vice President Lori Traweek. Discussions explored how to use online and digital platforms to provide greater flexibility, better communication with customers, response during emergencies and facilitate bill paying. More and more, energy utilities are offering mobile and online platforms for bill payment and outage communications and alerts. Utilities are also leveraging social media channels and online chat platforms to build relationships, talk with customers, increase engagement and spread important messages. And innovations in technology throughout the energy delivery chain have made the process safer, more reliable and more efficient than ever.

Yet along with these tremendous opportunities to provide solutions for customers, the digital world has created new challenges – particularly on the security front. As more functions and data move online, working to ensure that utility systems are secure from cyber threats grows increasingly critical. Defense expert and author of the book America the Vulnerable Joel Brenner delivered the keynote address, detailing the ever-changing threats posed by cyber hackers and attackers. Throughout the conference, panelists and breakout sessions examined today’s threats to energy delivery and customer privacy, and leading practices to combat those threats. Safety has always been the core value for natural gas utilities, and AGA and its member companies continue to work to enhance both the physical and cyber security of their delivery systems.

Joel Brenner, author of American the Vulnerable, discusses “Utility Customer Service in a Vulnerable World” at EEI/AGA CSC 2015.

Joel Brenner, author of American the Vulnerable, discusses “Utility Customer Service in a Vulnerable World” at EEI/AGA CSC 2015.

For nearly 200 years, natural gas utilities have delivered energy to homes and businesses. Though technology has changed, their commitment to safe, reliable energy delivery and exemplary customer service has stayed strong. In April 2016, the EEI/AGA Customer Service Conference will join CS Week – the largest utility-focused customer service conference in the world. Transitioning to CS Week provides all of the benefits of the EEI/AGA Customer Service Conference on a larger scale, and AGA looks forward to continuing to elevate the natural gas customer experience.

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Richard Meyer Natural Gas Market Indicators: April 15, 2015

A new study from Washington State University shows that methane emissions from U.S. natural gas distribution systems are 70 percent below current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates of those emissions. Based on data collected from pipeline leaks, meter and regulator stations, and city gates within 13 utility systems across the country, the study’s authors found that emissions from local distribution companies (LDCs) have decreased over the past 20 years due to upgrades, changes in pipeline materials, and better leak detection and survey methods.

As we often report here in the “Market Indicators” blog articles, industry experience and performance exists on a spectrum – one that is often improving in terms of practices and technologies, as well as the regulatory precepts that oversee these activities. This study demonstrates improvements to gas utility system safety and environmental performance, but it is also part of a larger industry trend of better overall performance.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

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Christina Nyquist New Report Shows Growing Natural Gas Resources: Four Things You Need to Know

On Wednesday, April 8, AGA announced the findings of a new report detailing the nation’s supply of domestic natural gas. Compiled by the Potential Gas Committee, the year-end 2014 report Potential Supply of Natural Gas in the United States, shows that future U.S. gas supplies are at their highest level ever and continue to grow. This means the nation’s domestic abundance of natural gas can continue to support customer savings, economic growth, energy security and increased efficiency and environmental solutions.

AGA_3110-Potential-Gas-Committee-Map-V-3-WEB

Here are four things you need to know about the latest natural gas numbers.

Record Supply

  •  According to the Potential Gas Committee, U.S. technically recoverable natural gas resources are estimated to be 2,515 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as of year-end 2014 – a five percent increase since the year-end 2012 report.
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that domestic dry proved natural gas reserves have doubled since 1993, and are now estimated at 338 Tcf. Proved reserves are volumes of natural gas known to exist that have been proven by exploration and development operations.
  • When combined with EIA proved reserves estimates, the U.S. future supply of natural gas now exceeds 2,850 Tcfthe highest combined future supply of natural gas ever.

Savings for Consumers

  •  Households that use natural gas for heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying save an average of $693 per year compared to homes using electricity for those applications.
  • Strong supply fundamentals and robust delivery infrastructure suggest that natural gas prices will remain competitive and stable at a level well below the peak market prices of the preceding decade.
  • Low domestic natural gas prices have led to savings of almost $30 billion for residential natural gas customers over the past five years.
  • In 2013, the average commercial customer saved more than $2,000 on their annual bill due to low natural gas prices compared to 2008.

Direct Use of Natural Gas is the Efficient Choice

  •  Natural gas is 92 percent efficient when used directly in homes and businesses.
  • Customers can unlock greater savings by working with their local utility to make efficient energy choices.
  • In 2013, local utility efficiency programs helped customers reduce their annual natural gas usage by an average 18 percent and save $137 in annual energy costs, while offsetting 7.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Expanding Access, Enhancing Safety

  •  To ensure that more Americans can safely enjoy the benefits of domestic natural gas, local utilities are working with governors, legislators and state regulators around the country to upgrade, enhance and expand the nation’s more than 2.4 million miles of natural gas infrastructure.
  • By investing in our energy future and advancing smart policy to enhance safety and expand infrastructure, customers can look forward to continued market stability, reliable service and affordable prices.

For more information, visit www.aga.org/PGCReport.

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