Posts for the Category ‘General’

May
24
2013
2:27 pm

Hot topics: natural gas, manufacturing and exporting LNG

Last week, Gas South had the opportunity to host some of Georgia’s largest manufacturers at the Cherokee Town Club in Atlanta. We heard from industry experts, economists and lawyers regarding hot topics in the natural gas business.

We discussed the state of the natural gas market and listened to a presentation given by our very own Supply and Risk Management Manager, Michael Swartzell. We also explored the potential impact of exporting Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and how it would affect the U.S. economy, a great discussion led by Roger Tutterow of Mercer University. The group also gained insight into the process of fracking through a session with Mr. Walt Standisky of Roper Pump Company. Lastly, David Wochner of Sutherland Asbill and Brennan gave an update on the regulatory environment for LNG and fracking.

The major takeaways from the sessions were:

- Natural gas is domestic, plentiful and changing the energy landscape of the United States

- The U.S. is the #1 producer of natural gas in the world

- Economists are predicting the shale gas boom to continue and that by 2040 annual natural gas production will rise by 50%

- Only two LNG export terminals are operating in the U.S.

- World demand and higher prices in other markets will continue to drive producers to push for more export terminals

- It is uncertain how many LNG export terminals will be approved by the Department of Energy

- Even with growing LNG exports, the increase in shale gas production should offset the offshore demand and keep prices stable

- The regulatory environment is not moving quickly and it is unlikely that any ruling will significantly impact prices

The following chart shows the huge increase in shale gas production expected by 2040.

Do you think exporting LNG is good for the US economy?

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May
14
2013
2:55 pm

Providing better customer care

 

At Gas South, it’s our mission to provide the best customer service in the industry. That’s why, about a year ago, we decided to bring our customer care operations in-house.  We hired 100 of the best customer service agents and set about the task of making our already best-in-class service even better.

A year later, I’m proud to report that our commitment has proved to be a smashing success.  For example, since “insourcing” our call center:

- We have seen a 40 percent decrease in escalated calls.

- Customers are now getting the answers they need with a single call 98 percent of the time.

- Annual agent turnover rate has plunged from 35 percent before the change to less than 13 percent today.

In early May, Gas South held a party at our Marietta call center to celebrate these achievements and mark the first anniversary. It was an opportunity to thank the customer care team for their dedication and hard work.

Over the past year, we have invested a significant amount of resources into our customer care operations. We launched an online customer care team to handle inquiries via chat and email, improved our quality assurance process and developed seasonal training courses to ensure that agents provide timely information to customers.  All of these changes have served to empower our call center employees. They’re now even better able to assist our customers with any questions they may have.

It’s all part of Gas South’s commitment to provide the best natural gas service in Georgia.  And we appreciate hearing from our customers about how we are doing.  Send us an email at tellgassouth@gas-south.com.  We appreciate and value your feedback.

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Apr
30
2013
5:47 pm

Yes!Atlanta Wins Charity Cornhole Challenge

Wow, what a weekend! I want to thank everyone that came out to SweetWater Brewing Company’s 420 Festival to enjoy the beautiful weather while celebrating Earth Day. We had an amazing time hosting the Gas South Cornhole Challenge and the funds raised through tournament entry fees, t-shirt and koozie sales totaled more than $3,000 dollars. Freddy Bensch, owner of SweetWater Brewery and Kevin Greiner, President and CEO of Gas South stepped up and matched the amount to bring the grand total to $9,000 for our Charity Cornhole Challenge winner.

At 3:00 p.m. on April 21st, 10 of Atlanta’s nonprofits competed for 100% of the weekend proceeds and the coveted title of Charity Cornhole Champion. The competition was tough and ultimately came down to a fierce battle between St. Vincent de Paul’s ’Team a MAZE ing’ and the ‘Yes!Atlanta Holes’ representing Yes!Atlanta. With a final score of 21 -16 the Yes!Atlanta Holes were crowned our triumphant victors.

Gas South and SweetWater Brewery could not be more excited to donate $9,000 dollars to Yes!Atlanta. Yes!Atlanta works to keep at-risk Atlanta teens in high school by eliminating self-defeating behavior through mentoring and tutoring programs. The donation from this weekend will provide funding for four at risk students for one year.

Thanks again to everyone who came out and enjoyed the SweetWater 420 Fest and the Gas South Cornhole Challenge. The weekend lived up to both SweetWater and Gas South’s commitment to providing a great experience and giving back to the communities we serve!

Any ideas on how we might improve our Cornhole Challenge? Leave a comment below!

Cheers,

PJ

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Apr
18
2013
10:44 am

SweetWater’s 420 Fest is THIS weekend!

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Celebrate Earth Day at SweetWater’s 420 Fest in Atlanta’s historic Candler Park. SweetWater has long been a valued Gas South customer, one that shares our values when it comes to environmental stewardship and giving back to the communities we serve, so we are happy to sponsor this great event. The music festival, now in its fourth year, kicks off on Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday. There will be an area for the kids to run around in and plenty of delicious SweetWater on tap for the adults. It’s sure to be a great time!

Gas South will once again be sponsoring Planet 420, a special section of the festival featuring a live music stage and an area where you can learn about the amazing work being done by local nonprofit organizations.

Stop by Planet 420 on Saturday and Sunday for Gas South’s 2nd Annual “Cornhole Challenge.” Never heard of cornhole? It’s like horseshoes. The object of the game is to toss a beanbag into a hole on a raised wooden platform. Read more about the rules of game here.

On Saturday, the Cornhole Challenge is open to all festival-goers. Just form a team, make a $20 donation, and start tossing. On Sunday, the competition really heats up with many of Atlanta’s nonprofit organizations vying for the coveted title of Gas South’s Charity Cornhole Champion. The winning group will receive the proceeds from Saturday’s tournament – an amount that will be matched by Sweetwater and Gas South.

The party starts at 4:20 on Friday. We encourage all guests to take Marta, as parking is limited around the park. Admission is free, but if you wish to enjoy SweetWater’s famous drafts, you must purchase a $5 wristband with valid ID.

Now, start practicing your delicate underhand toss and join us and the folks at SweetWater in honoring Mother Earth and have fun while you do it. See you there!

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Mar
29
2013
5:33 pm

Women helping women: The importance of female mentors in the workplace

Two weeks ago I found myself standing at the Cobb Galleria alongside 14 women at the Northwest Georgia YWCA’s Tribute to Women. This annual event honors women who have made extraordinary contributions to family, community, charity and their professions. I felt incredibly honored and humbled to be recognized among Georgia’s most outstanding female leaders. But it also got me thinking: How did I get here?

The role of women as leaders in the workplace has become a hot topic recently. Just look at all the attention being paid to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” I admire Sandberg and the incredibly successful career she’s built. But I know how difficult it can be for women to navigate a business world that is still dominated – for the most part – by men.

I would never have been recognized as an honoree that night without the professional (and sometimes personal) guidance and support provided by female mentors throughout my career. These incredible women helped guide me during critical periods of my career. Ellen Lindeman, a past YWCA honoree and retired head of HR at the Southern Company, helped me hone my strategic thinking and goal setting.  Vera Arthur, Senior Vice President of HR for SWM International, mentored me as part of a Pathbuilders program (great resource for developing women), providing direction during my transition from manager to executive at Gas South. Sometimes their advice addressed issues particular to women. At other times, gender was irrelevant. Looking back, it was all invaluable.

I’m fortunate now to work at Gas South, where women are well-represented at all levels – even in the executive suite three of the company’s six senior leaders are women (including me!). We foster a progressive, results-focused work place, leaving no room for any cultural baggage surrounding gender.

At this point in my career, I have transitioned from mentee to mentor, offering my counsel to young professional women as they seek to climb the ranks. Here are some of the tips that I often pass on:

Tip #1: Always dress at least one notch more formal than is required, whether in the office, at a business lunch or charity gala in order to be taken seriously.

Tip #2: Be conscious about apologizing too often. Women tend to say “sorry” too often for things that don’t really warrant an apology.

Tip #3:  If you don’t make an issue that you are a woman, it reduces the chance others will.

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor. Most people are flattered and will eagerly accept. Make sure to identify a skill set you need to work on and approach a person who is influential in your line of work.

At this stage of the game, I am passionate about the importance of giving back to other women.  I encourage all, both men and women, to seek out opportunities to mentor others who are earlier on in their careers.

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Mar
1
2013
4:46 pm

Natural Gas 101 – AGL Pass-Through Charges

In the last installment of the ‘Natural Gas 101’ series here on ‘The Hot Spot,’ we talked about your DDDC Factor. Today, we will help you understand AGL Pass-Through Charges.

What are the AGL Pass-Through Charges?

Have you ever looked at your natural gas bill and wondered what AGL Pass-Through Charges are? Maybe you’ve asked “Who is AGL?” and “What exactly is passed through?”  Well, Atlanta Gas Light Company (AGL) is the company that owns the pipeline system that delivers natural gas to your property.  The AGL Pass-Through Charges represent AGL’s costs for maintaining the natural gas pipelines and storage facilities, as well as reading your meter each month.  Rather than receiving a separate bill from AGL, these monthly charges are sent to your natural gas marketer (in your case, Gas South) and those charges are “passed through” to you – without any additional cost or mark-up.  You’ll see the charges from AGL on your Gas South bill, just like in the sample bill below.

When will I get charged the AGL Pass-Through Charges?

AGL Pass-Through Charges are assessed on the 20th of every month for the next month of service. The sample bill above includes AGL Pass-Through charges for the month of August.

AGL assesses the full monthly pass-through charges each month regardless of the actual number of days you receive service or the amount of gas you use in that particular month.  You’ll see the monthly AGL Pass-Through charge on each bill as the AGL charges are spread over an entire year rather than when gas is used.

How are they calculated and what exactly do the AGL Pass-Through Charges cover?

Your AGL Pass-Through Charges are exactly the same regardless of which natural gas marketer you choose.  These charges are calculated by AGL and regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission.

AGL Pass-Through Charges vary by month and are independent of your current month’s gas usage. They will vary by month and tend to be higher in the winter months.

What are the factors AGL uses to calculate your monthly charges?

The AGL charges include:

-Customer Charge: A fixed monthly fee for gas connection to your home or business.

-Ancillary Service: Covers the cost of AGL to read your meter.

-Social Responsibility Fee: Covers the cost of funding the Senior Citizens’ Discount Program for low-income customers. (This does not apply to customers who receive the senior citizens’ discount.)

-Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement (STRIDE): Covers the cost of specific Georgia Public Service Commission-approved programs to maintain the integrity and reliability of the AGL pipeline system.

What charges are based on your DDDC?

-Dedicated Design Day Capacity (DDDC): A charge that recovers costs associated with delivering gas to your home or business.

-Peaking Service: Covers the fixed cost of operating company-owned above-ground storage facilities. This ensures an adequate supply of gas on the coldest days of the year. This service is only charged to customers in certain areas of the state.

-Franchise Recovery Fee (FRF): Recovers fees paid by AGL to local governments for the use of public rights-of-way for natural gas lines and other facilities.

-Environmental Response Cost (ERC) Recovery Fee: Recovers expenses related to cleanup of former manufactured gas plant sites.

For more information, visit Gas South’s Frequently Asked Questions or AGL’s Guide to Atlanta Gas Light Charges.

 

 

 

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Jan
25
2013
12:02 pm

Gas South Employee Spotlight

For this month’s employee spotlight, we interviewed Greg Dunavant about his experiences at Gas South and his plans for his new position. Greg was recently promoted and is now our Senior Manager of Customer Care.

Greg, congratulations on your promotion! So, what are the responsibilities of your new position?

Thanks Meredith. As the Senior Manager of Customer Care, my goal is to provide our customers a best-in-class customer care experience. To do this, I am working with our team to identify processes and policies which can be improved, and once these processes are identified, we can implement solutions. I am also focused on empowering our team to help customers, developing our leadership team and associates, keeping the customer care team involved with the communities we serve and ensuring that Gas South is a great place to work.

Wow! That is great, Greg! Now, how long have you been working for Gas South?

I have been with Gas South since its inception in 2006.  I started with Gas South on the Supply and Risk Management Team as an analyst, and have been part of the Mass Markets team since 2007, working in both operations and marketing.

In terms of your new position, what are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to partnering with our customer care associates to continue to improve how we serve our customers. Since “in-sourcing” our customer care center in May 2012, we have empowered our team to make sound business decisions for the good of our customers and we’ve also implemented several system-wide changes which have improved the quality of service we are providing.  I am excited to build on this momentum. I am also looking forward to learning from the team and helping our employees develop professionally.

What is your favorite part about working at Gas South?

Our culture of empowerment is my favorite part of working at Gas South. This culture encourages employees to identify opportunities, recommend changes and implement solutions. I also love our commitment to the communities we serve.  All of our 150+ employees live in Georgia and are encouraged to give back through volunteering time and resources.

Those are a few of my favorite parts too! So Greg, how do you spend your free time?

Well, I am graduating from the Georgia Tech MBA program in May so much of my free time is dedicated to preparing for class, going to school and studying. When I am not focusing on school, my wife and I enjoy spending time with family and friends, exploring Atlanta and pulling for the Auburn Tigers.

Thanks Greg. We are all looking forward to working together with you to continue to grow and improve. 2013 is already shaping up to be a great year!

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Jan
7
2013
3:35 pm

5 Ways to Keep Your Natural Gas Costs Down

As the winter season begins, our customers often come to us looking for the best way to keep their natural gas costs down.  We are prepared every year to provide our customers with tips to do just that.  Here are a handful of ways you can potentially cut your natural gas usage during the winter months.

1.) Invest in a programmable thermostat. The majority of programmable thermostats allow you to set multiple time frames and temperatures to fit your lifestyle.  There are even a few that can adapt to those frequent “nudges” that you give the thermostat to take the chill off and automatically change their programming to fit.  Avoid changing the temperatures once you have it programmed to avoid unnecessary increases in your natural gas usage.

2.) Avoid large swings in temperature. Avoid raising or lowering the temperature settings more than 5-8 degrees in a daily period to save on natural gas usage.  The only exception should be when you are not at home for an extended period of time when you can set it at a lower temperature than normal.  Large swings in temperature can cause your unit to work harder to heat your home.  Remember, you are not only heating the air but everything in your home as well.

3.) Change the filter in your furnace or air handler regularly. Most HVAC companies recommend inspecting, cleaning, or replacing the filter every month during the summer and winter seasons.  A dirty air filter causes your system to work harder to push the air throughout your home, causing increased energy usage.

4.) Keep windows and doors shut. Another easy way to save on heating costs is to make sure that all windows and doors remain closed.  Close blinds or drapes to further decrease the amount of heat loss through your windows.

5.) Wear warm clothes. This is one of the easiest and cost effective ways to lower your energy bills during the winter.   Most energy efficiency websites recommend a maximum heating temperature setting of less than 70 degrees.  For those of you who feel cold at temperatures below 70 degrees, a light jacket, sweat shirt, or long sleeve shirt can help keep you warm without having to raise your thermostat temperature and therefore your natural gas usage.

Though heating bills are ultimately dependent on how cold the winter is, these tips should allow you to save on your natural gas usage. What are some ways you try to save during the colder months?

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Dec
21
2012
12:07 pm

Happy Holidays!

As we move further into the Holiday Season, we just wanted to take a moment to wish you and yours a safe and enjoyable Holiday. Thank you for choosing Gas South as your natural gas provider, we look forward to serving you in 2013.

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Dec
20
2012
11:56 am

PJ Follows the CNG Revolution to DC

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the American Trucking Association Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking in Washington D.C. Topics ranged from Natural Gas 101 to The Politics of Natural Gas. This particular conference was focused on the trucking industry and it was a packed house, full of regional and national truckers, natural gas companies such as ConocoPhillips and other companies that service the industry.

We heard from gas station owners and developers such as Frank Love of Love’s Travel Stops and James A. Haslam III, the Chairman of Pilot Flying J. They spoke about the benefits and challenges of natural gas from an infrastructure standpoint.  Gas station owners are actively looking at natural gas in LNG(Liquefied Natural Gas) and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) forms as a viable fuel ,but believe that demand and economics will drive the change.

The clear star of the show was Mr. T. Boone Pickens. Mr. Pickens, or as he asked me to call him later, T. Boone, spoke at the conference and gave a brilliant and candid perspective on the natural gas revolution. T. Boone has championed the effort behind the natural gas boom with the Pickens Plan and has invested millions of dollars in Clean Energy. Clean Energy is the leading provider of CNG and LNG in the United States.

It took diesel fuel 30 years to be adopted by this industry after WWII. So as the CNG Revolution continues, how long do you think it will take this industry to adopt natural gas?

 

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