Jan
14
2014
1:39 pm

Project SHARE and Gas South help Georgians keep the heat on

For most metro Atlanta residents, staying warm this winter is as easy as turning up the thermostat. But for low-income families struggling to make ends meet, it’s not so simple. For them, even the smallest financial crisis is enough to make bill payment impossible.

Fortunately, Project SHARE offers another option to help keep families warm this winter. Salvation Army’s Project SHARE provides emergency bill-payment assistance to families facing a temporary crisis.

For the second year, Gas South will partner with the Salvation Army to offer our customers a chance to donate to Project SHARE. Gas South will match customer contributions up to $10 per month. Contributions will be used to help families in need keep their heat on this winter as well as acquire necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical supplies. Donations assist residents in all counties in Georgia, and the money collected through the program stays in the county from which it originates. Your donation will help your own neighbors in need.

Gas South Cares is our year-round commitment to giving back to the communities we serve. We strive to make a difference in our communities through hands-on volunteer work and corporate giving that focuses on community, culture, education, and service. Project SHARE is a continuation of our commitment. Gas South customers can sign up to donate by visiting gas-south.com/projectshare. And remember, Gas South will match your donation up to $10 per month!

Jan
9
2014
9:33 am

Brrr!!! Higher bill this month?

It’s Mother Nature…but you can do something about it

Did you know what a “Polar Vortex” was before this week? Nope, neither did we. For those of us who had the recent “pleasure” of experiencing its frigid fringe, we learned that, as the name suggests, it’s very, very cold. So cold, in fact, that for a night, Atlanta was even chillier than Moscow, Russia, at 5  ̊F. That was just the temperature reading, however. Throw in the wind-chill factor and it felt like -11 on Peachtree Street Tuesday morning – a record-setter in the normally pleasant state of Georgia.

As expected, the local news was filled with how-to advice for battling the plunging temperatures. One segment even featured Gas South Vice President of HR & External Affairs, Meredith Hodges, who said that natural gas consumption was more than 20 percent higher in Georgia this past December than in the previous two years. And more bad news: January could be even higher! That means homes across the country could experience “bill shock” because of increased heating costs.

Since you may be using more gas than usual, your bills could be higher than you’d expect. As the temperature drops, your furnace must work even harder to keep your home warm. During this cold snap, follow a few easy energy saving tips, so you can stay comfortable AND save money. Did you know that decreasing the thermostat temperature by one degree can lower your bill by 3 percent? Or that that 40 percent of the energy loss in your home is due to leakage? We hope these energy-saving tips, some of which take little to no time or money to implement, will make a big difference for you.

In the meantime, stay warm!

Dec
13
2013
9:57 am

CNG – Making a Difference

 

Recently, we had the honor of speaking to Robyn Gillespie about her compressed natural gas (CNG) journey. Robyn purchased a CNG vehicle, installed an at-home fueling kit and signed on with Gas South. As a Gas South customer, she received our $200 bill credit for her recent CNG vehicle purchase. We are excited to feature Robyn’s story in this week’s blog post, as she talks about saving money and going green!

So Robyn, how did you first hear about CNG vehicles?

I work for an awesome company, Czarnowski, which is located in Austell.  However, I live in Gwinnett County – so no matter how you slice it – 45 miles each way.  When the PeachPass lane was rolled out, I was one of the early adopters even though it meant I was going to have to brown bag my lunch for the foreseeable future – paying a daily toll gets expensive fast.  Then as luck would have it, gasoline jumped to over $4/gallon.  Super painful!  So my commute was not only long and time consuming, it was getting out of control from a cost perspective.

I’d longingly look over at the empty HOV lane while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic both coming and going from work daily.  Once in a blue moon I’d see a single driver zoom by with the AFV tag – which meant they got to enjoy the open HOV lane without any other passengers.  The epiphany of being able to enjoy the open road is what shifted my research into AFV options into high gear.

Now what?  Electric?  CNG?  Biodiesel?  Other new emerging technologies?

Options exist…but very limited choices and even more restricted availability of actual road ready vehicles.  I ruled out electric almost from the get go as the mileage range is too restrictive and the cars are super small.  Installing a CNG conversion kit on my existing car was a strong possibility. I stumbled upon the Honda Civic NGV model and instantly knew that was the one for me.  Good sized car, lots of bells & whistles, good mileage range for my commute…I knew I had to have one!  That’s when things got very interesting…only 3,000 of these cars make it to the US every year from Japan and the majority of them go to California, Oregon and Colorado.  Fortunately, my persistence paid off and I was connected to Robert Thompson at Honda Mall of Georgia.
Why was it appealing to you to purchase a CNG vehicle?

Really the comfort of the Honda Civic NGV, reduced operating costs and the ability to have a natural gas fueling device installed at my home is what sealed the deal.  Although there are several commercial CNG fueling stations around town the thought of filling up in your own driveway is a super-commuter’s dream come true!

 So, which vehicle did you purchase and how long have you had it?

I purchased a brand new 2012 Honda Civic NGV from Honda Mall of Georgia.  Once I felt as though I had a solid solution to my commute challenge I “introduced myself” to Robert Thompson at HMoG (he has likened me to a Rat Terrier…persistent and high energy!).  We exchanged several emails about the car, service, pros, cons, etc.  Then in late February 2011 Robert called me to say one of the “magic” cars had arrived on the lot.  We set an appointment for later that day and for me it was “love” at first sight!  Took a test drive, talked some more and did my best to charm Robert…as he had several other folks interested in the car too.  The next morning I called, made an offer and two days later signed the papers…and rode off into the sunset…literally.

The next big hurdle for really making the car an easy one to drive was to get the special home pump installed.  Robert hooked me up with several folks and I started making calls.  Chuck Moon and his folks at Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) were absolute gems to work with.  As I’m usually in a client support role for my work it was really nice to be treated like a “client.”  Chuck’s team took really good care of me and helped get all the permits, paperwork and information rolling.  It took about 30 days (granted I was one of the first real home installations) from start to finish.  The Fuelmaker Pump was on its way from Italy to AGL and as soon as it arrived the gears were put in motion to get it installed.  Tony, from AGL and Kenny Greene, the installer, came out to the house and by the end of the day the pump was in and I was fueling.

How do you fuel up?

Carefully!  Just kidding :)   I lease the Fuelmaker Pump from AGL.  They came out and installed it directly to my home’s natural gas line.  So literally I fuel up in my driveway.  Attach the hose to the car, hit start and tah-day! the pump starts filling the tank.  Really super simple!


And how long does one tank last?

The Honda Civic NGV’s tank will hold the equivalent of 8 gallons.  So based on the average highway mileage per gallon I can go between 240 – 300 miles before I have to refuel.  The pump at my home fuels at the rate of 1 gallon per hour – so a short overnight pump has me totally refueled and ready to roll the next morning.  The furthest distance I’ve traveled so far in my “magic” car has been to the Blairsville area in North Georgia and back – approximately 250 miles RT…so I had plenty to spare. Plus, I know if needed I could always hop off at Honda Mall of Georgia and get a quick couple of gallons in an emergency on my way back home.

How do you like driving your CNG vehicle? And would you recommend switching to CNG to others?

So this adventure has been almost two years in the making.  All my original apprehension evaporated quickly once all the pieces fell into place.  I’ve been driving my “magic” car on average 90 miles a day.  As the car has an AFV tag, I don’t get hit with any PeachPass fees and I can cruise in the HOV lane all the way to and from the office or airport.  And I have a great home natural gas partner in Gas South!  My commuting expenses have dropped from an average of $18+/day to around $6/day and I’m saving 20-30 minutes in traffic each way.  Talk about a win-win!

I definitely recommend looking at the options available and then matching up your needs against the possible solutions.  I really like CNG because the infrastructure is in place now it’s just a matter of building the CNG driving community to really make it less alternative and more mainstream.  Every time I pass a gas station I just giggle at the price per gallon and keep on driving!

And then another surprise…in a great way…my CPA was able to get me $1000 in tax rebates for owning an AFV and also having the home CNG pump…this just keeps getting better and better :)

Thank you, Robyn! What a great story. For more information on compressed natural gas, visit Gas South’s CNG program page here.

Dec
10
2013
2:52 pm

Save money and energy with these simple year-round tips

Hey, what happened to fall in Georgia this year? Sure, the colors changed as planned, but doesn’t it seem like we skipped the pleasant transition of sunny, warm days with cool nights and went straight to scraping ice off the windshield and rummaging around the attic for ugly holiday sweaters?

All of this means one thing, of course – You’re using more gas to heat your home. However, there are things you can do to help offset higher energy bills. Follow these simple and important tips and you’ll be well on your way to saving energy this winter:

Lower the Temperature: In the winter, set your thermostat to 68°F when you’re home or 60°F when you’re away. But do not turn it off. It will cost more to reheat your home from colder temperatures than to keep it at 60°F. This can save 5-20% on your heating costs. Even lowering your heat by one degree during any 24-hour period can decrease your heating bill by up to 3%.

Maintain your heating system: Keep the filter clean and make sure that rugs and furniture are not blocking vents inside the house. Hire a licensed contractor to inspect your unit and consider upgrading old units for improved efficiency.

Insulate your home and seal your windows and doors: More than 40% of residential energy loss is due mainly to air leakage – yikes! Add caulk or weather stripping to windows and doors to reduce energy-sapping drafts. Caulk around pipes, ducts, vents or other openings in walls, floors, ceiling and attic.

Run appliances with full loads: Running the dryer or dishwasher with small loads uses the same energy as running them with full loads.

Open blinds and drapes during the day: Let the sun shine in during the winter for added warmth. Close at night to prevent drafts and loss of heat through the glass.

Stay warm, Georgians! For more great tips, visit our website.

Nov
15
2013
3:41 pm

Hit the clutch & shift your mindset on natural gas

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association (GHLA) and area business leaders about natural gas as a fuel option for vehicles. I spoke about the need for a shift in our collective mindset concerning natural gas powered vehicles. This shift is imperative to the prosperity and sustainability of Atlanta’s economy.

It is essential that business leaders, municipalities and the public understand the benefits of natural gas. Not only is natural gas a viable domestic fuel offering savings of over $1.50 a gallon when compared to diesel and gasoline, it provides reduced emissions and greenhouse gasses for Atlanta’s air.  With the efforts of compressed natural gas (CNG) companies like Clean Energy, AFS, AGL, Trillium and private companies such as Frito-Lay, AT&T, UPS, Waste Management and Coca-Cola, stations are being built and the “Chicken and Egg” question is being answered.

On November 18th -21st, Atlanta will be hosting the National Natural Gas Vehicle Conference and Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center.  This will be an opportunity for Atlanta’s business community to see, feel and touch the technology, as well as learn about the savings and environmental benefits that it provides.

In 1996, Atlanta showcased natural gas powered vehicles to the masses when Marta transitioned city buses from petroleum to clean burning natural gas.  I think it’s time for the transportation hub of the southeast to once again show leadership by choosing a fuel that is domestically sourced, provides savings for businesses and reduces the impact on the air we breathe.

What is stopping your business from making the switch to CNG?

Oct
29
2013
4:28 pm

Disney on Ice comes to Atlanta

Disney on Ice came to Atlanta and Gas South was excited to partner with Feld Entertainment to provide dozens of local families with special needs children a great night out to enjoy the on-ice extravaganza, featuring all of the favorites like Donald, Mickey and Minnie.

Prior to the show, our guests, who were selected by some of our Alliance partners, were treated to a pizza party and a special meet and greet with the costumed cast. It was the perfect start to a great evening, in which our Disney friends (and villains) skated through sets of winter wonderlands, haunted houses, a royal ball, and a medley of other fairytale scenarios. We hope this special night was a memorable one for the families in attendance and we look forward to next year!

Oct
24
2013
2:58 pm

Meredith Hodges named one of Georgia’s ‘Most Powerful & Influential Women’

Gas South is thrilled to announce that Meredith Hodges, our vice president of external affairs and human resources, was honored by the Georgia Diversity Council as one of the most powerful and influential women in Georgia. Meredith received the prestigious award on Sept. 27 at the 4th Annual Georgia Leadership Conference.

The awards are intended for businesswomen who have made a difference through their achievements and exemplify the ability to excel in their fields, and Meredith certainly fits the bill. Her 20 years of experience in the utility industry make her a vital resource at Gas South and a true leader.

At Gas South, Meredith is really a Jill of all trades – she oversees human resources, legislative and regulatory affairs, public relations, and community involvement. I commonly and affectionately call Meredith our “Chief People Officer”, because she makes Gas South a great place to work and a great company to do business with. She has spearheaded many community service initiatives over the years, and stays involved in the community through her volunteer efforts with local organizations such as the Woodruff Arts Center, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, United Way, Junior Achievement, and others.

We’re extremely proud, go Meredith!

Oct
10
2013
2:24 pm

Gas South partners with Buckhead Coalition

We are proud to announce a new partnership with the Buckhead Coalition that will provide annual funding for the Buckhead-based Shepherd Center Adolescent Program. Sam Massell, Buckhead Coalition president and former mayor of Atlanta, made the announcement in a press conference late last month.

Under the partnership, Gas South will offer discounted natural gas rates to Buckhead residents and businesses. The Buckhead Coalition will receive funding from Gas South for each resident and business that opts in to the program and will then donate the funds to the Shepherd Center Adolescent Program, the country’s only special care unit for adolescents suffering from spinal cord injuries.

As a community energy provider, Gas South has similar programs with DeKalb County, several electric membership corporations (EMCs), and numerous municipalities across Georgia and has helped thousands of customers save more than $5.7 million to date. Home to more than 78,000 residents, Buckhead is the first community to donate the funds received to a non-profit organization.

“The Shepherd Center is a mainstay in the Buckhead community, serving thousands of patients across the country annually. We are pleased to be able to donate additional funds to this charitable organization, thanks in large part to Gas South,” said Sam Massell, Buckhead Coalition president. “It is our hope that this partnership will be an enduring source of funding for the Center.”

All Buckhead natural gas consumers are eligible for a discount off Gas South’s published rates for as long as they remain customers. Additionally, Gas South will waive the $60 connection fee for establishing service at a new residence. The initial funding pledged to the Center is $5,000, and will increase annually based on program participation. It is the goal of Gas South and the Buckhead Coalition that funding will eventually reach $25,000 per year.

“Gas South is excited to work with Mayor Massell and the staff and board of directors at the Buckhead Coalition. This win-win proposition will provide discounts on natural gas service for Buckhead residents and businesses as well as sustained annual funding for the Shepherd Center’s programs,” said Kevin Greiner, Gas South president and CEO. “The Buckhead Coalition is one of our region’s most respected civic organizations, and we are honored to have the opportunity to partner with them on this worthy cause.”

Gas South will fund all marketing efforts and contributions made under the program. All natural gas consumers in the Buckhead community have the option of selecting Gas South as their natural gas provider and opting in to the discount program. Buckhead residents and businesses should visit our website and use the promo code “BUCKHEAD” to opt in.

Oct
8
2013
5:20 pm

Bring the Heat – 2013

The Braves and Gas South present UWGA with $31,000

Velvet Washington with Gas South and Carley Jacobs with the United Way of Greater Atlanta

Few people are called to take to the turf at Turner Field, and those lucky enough are typically Major League Baseball players and officials. There was, however, one notable exception to the rule prior the last regular-season finale between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, Velvet Washington, a Gas South employee.

Velvet was the toast of ‘The Ted’ for a few memorable moments as she presented the United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA) with a hefty $31,000 check from Gas South as part of our Bring the Heat campaign with the Braves.

What’s Bring the Heat? Every time a Braves pitcher records a regular season strikeout, Gas South donates $25 to the UWGA. For the record, the Braves’ regular season strikeout total for 2013 was 1232 (note to all you mathematicians, we rounded our donation up by $200 to make an even $31,000).

Since 2008, Bring the Heat has contributed more than $200,000 to local nonprofits as part of Gas South’s Hometown Value promise to advance the communities in which we live, work and serve. While the campaign is officially over for 2013, Gas South is already looking forward to continuing Bring the Heat next year. Go Braves!

Oct
4
2013
4:24 pm

Breathe easy this winter with these carbon monoxide safety tips

Cooler weather will be here before you know it, which means it’s almost time to crank up the heat! While heating appliances are operating in your home this season, it’s important to remember a few safety tips about carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, odorless substance produced from the combustion of carbon-based substances, and can be emitted from fireplaces, faulty furnaces, generators, water heaters, and other heat sources. If inhaled, CO can be very poisonous and may cause severe side effects including sickness, nausea, headaches, drowsiness, and sometimes even death.

To keep your household safe this winter, practice these safety tips so you can breathe easy:

  1. Have a CO alarm and monitor in the home, and test it regularly. Keep the monitor at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
  2. Don’t use grills, generators, or camping stoves inside the home. These appliances can emit high amounts of CO, and it’s important to only use them in well-ventilated areas.
  3. Never leave a car running in the garage. Car exhaust is one of the substances commonly associated with CO poisoning.
  4. Keep gasoline stored in a locked location away from children, and keep only in small quantities. It’s also important to keep gasoline away from heat sources to prevent combustion and CO emission.
  5. Have home heating systems inspected and serviced annually by a trained technician. This includes appliances like furnaces, gas stoves and ovens, and water heaters.

Keep these tips in mind over the coming months so you can keep warm and stay safe as it gets cooler outside. For more information on natural gas and carbon monoxide safety practices, click here.

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