Category Archives: technology

Lisa Dundon October Marks National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2014

In this day and age, nearly every aspect of our lives has become digital. Even when we’re not directly connected to the Internet, our critical infrastructure — the vast, worldwide connection of computers, data and websites supporting financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications and more — is and it impacts us all.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) – celebrated each October – was created to help engage and educate public and private sectors about the importance of staying safe online through special events and initiatives. Since its inception 11 years ago, NCSAM has grown exponentially, and information about online safety continues to adapt to the changing threats that exist, reaching consumers, small and medium-size businesses, corporations, educational institutions and people across the nation.

banner 300x250 October Marks National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2014

According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA), securing cyberspace, including the devices and networks we use, is a shared responsibility. Individual actions have a collective impact and using the Internet safely makes it more secure for everyone. If each person does their part by implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating family and friends, and training employees, our digital society will be safer and more resistant from cyber-attacks.

This year, each week of NCSAM has a theme to help focus on core issues:

  • Week 1 (October 1-3) – Stop. Think. Connect.
  • Week 2 (October 6-10) – Secure Development of IT Products
  • Week 3 (October 13-14) – Critical Infrastructure and The Internet
  • Week 4 (October 20-24) – Cybersecurity for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses and Entrepreneurs
  • Week 5 (October 27-31) – Cybercrime and Law Enforcement

AGA will once-again be an active participant of NCSAM by posting blog articles related to the weekly themes, as well as daily content on our Facebook and Twitter pages using the official hashtag, #NCSAM. Let us know how your organization is informing utility customers about how to stay safe online in the comments section below. AGA will feature your efforts on our blog and social media accounts.

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Lisa Dundon New Website Earning Rave Reviews for Citizens Energy Group

Guest Blogger: Sarah Holsapple, Media Relations/Spokesperson, Citizens Energy Group

After a year of hard work, AGA member utility Citizens Energy Group launched a new and improved website last month. The new site is receiving rave reviews from both customers and employees. While the website has the same URL as our previous site, CitizensEnergyGroup.com has a brand new look and feel. Before I explain the features of the new website, let me provide some background as to why Citizens developed it in the first place.

In early 2013, Citizens began an initiative we dubbed Voice of the Customer in which we proactively sought feedback on all our business practices, including our website. Through dozens of conversations, customers told us we needed to improve the design and navigation of our site. With customer service being a top priority at Citizens, we took their suggestions to heart.

Citizens Energy Group New Website Earning Rave Reviews for Citizens Energy GroupBesides the aesthetic differences to the website, we’ve added the following features to make the user experience more convenient:

  •  Fewer Clicks - Whether you’re looking for conservation tips or a link to pay your bill, our new website will get you there faster by offering just five category choices: My Account, My Home, My Business, Our Company and For Partners.
  • Personalized Dashboard – Our new customer dashboard provides links to customers’ current and previous bills. The dashboard also provides quick links to important topics including payment options, starting and stopping service and conservation tips.
  • Mobilization – In this day and age when many customers access our site on mobile devices, we’ve designed the site to be optimized for any screen size: smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
  • Convenient Communication – Over the next year, Citizens will add even more functionality allowing you to enroll in budget billing or to make flexible payment arrangements. We’ll also let you choose how you hear from us whether via text, email or by phone.

Citizens promoted the new website, designed in-house and built by Bitwise Solutions, Inc., through a press release, an email to customers and various forms of social media. Our customers have been pleased with the change and are commenting about how easy it is to pay bills on the new site and how quickly they can find information. When it comes to interacting with customers, Citizens’ website is one of our most powerful tools. Now that this tool is updated, easy to access on any device and user-friendly, we’re proving to customers that their voices are being heard.
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Has your utility’s website recently gone through a redesign? Let AGA know in the comments section below.

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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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