The cover story for the May issue of American Gas magazine, titled “Fueling America,” and AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy’s president’s message in that issue both talk about how little understood is the role that local natural gas utilities play in the local communities in which they operate.
Yes, those local utilities deliver clean, reliable natural gas to the homes, businesses and industries in cities and towns across America, but they also are connected to their customers in ways that go far beyond their natural gas pipe in the ground.
They also are connected by the significant economic impact they have on their local communities. A recent study says that America’s natural gas industry is responsible for 2.8 million American jobs, of which more than 600,000 are the direct result of finding, producing and delivering natural gas to customers. In addition, more than 700,000 jobs are the indirect result of our industry—that is, these jobs are created by companies that sell products and services to the natural gas industry. And finally, 1.5 million American jobs are the result of the consumer spending done by the workers in those direct and indirect natural gas industry jobs—what is sometimes called the “induced result” of our industry.
All total, according to the study, 31 states have at least 10,000 jobs related to the natural gas industry, which is a significant economic impact that is felt in communities around the nation.
Local natural gas utilities also are connected to their communities by the civic pride and local commitment so proudly exhibited by their employees. Nationwide natural gas utilities, driven by the charitable giving of their employees, contribute nearly $3 billion to energy assistance programs for low-income families struggling to pay their energy bills. These utility employees are also leaders in charitable giving and corporate philanthropy, donating money to help their communities in everything from education, to local business development to making sure less fortunate children have a present to open on Christmas day.
And finally, natural gas utilities and their employees work with local business and political leaders to attract new businesses to their communities, thereby increasing local jobs and local tax revenues, while also increasing the number of natural gas utility customers.
In sum the local natural gas utility and its employees know that being a good neighbor and friend is good for the soul as well as good for business. As AGA President McCurdy puts it in his president’s message, “The more thriving and vital the community is, the more thriving and vital its natural gas utility is—and vice versa.”