Posts for the Category ‘General’

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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Nov
28
2012
4:31 pm

What is Pay-As-You-Go?

Have you heard about our Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) program yet? We created PAYG in 2008 to help credit challenged customers get natural gas service. This program allows customers to obtain service without a deposit or a pre-payment. PAYG is an alternative to the regulated provider program and can actually help people strengthen their credit scores.

How does it work?      

Each month, our PAYG customers are billed only for the gas they are forecasted to use over the next 30 days. This estimate is based on historical usage and the current gas prices. We also calculate the difference between the usage from the prior month and the charges you received. This calculation is reflected in the next bill to ensure that you only pay for the gas that you use. After 12 months of good payment history, you can move to a lower rate plan and we will report your good history to a consumer credit reporting agency to help improve your credit score.

The PAYG program offers low fixed and variable rates without any upfront costs. We also partner with several non-profit organizations through the program to help those in need. CredAbility, The Salvation Army, United Way, St. Vincent de Paul, Atlanta Community Food Bank and Action Ministries are all PAYG partners of Gas South.

How can I sign up?

If you think PAYG would work for you, please check out our website for more information. You can also call us at 1-877-347-7243. Temperatures are dropping outside, so let us know if you want to Pay-As-You-Go!

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Nov
21
2012
3:02 pm

Thanksgiving at Gas South!

Manon, Dmitriy, Melanie and Rony gathered around the table for some great food!

Gas South employees celebrated an early Thanksgiving as a family with a festive potluck lunch. The celebration was filled with lots of food, lots of fun and lots of thanks!

We also took some time to reflect on what we are thankful for as a company and we want you to know, we are thankful for you. To all of our loyal customers, thank you for your business. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

So, what are you thankful for this year?

Stephanie, Kevin and Kamden gathered round for the feast.

Lots of food, lots of fun and lots of thanks!

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Nov
12
2012
11:05 am

Gas South Employee Spotlight

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we want to spotlight one of our employees, Stephon White.

Stephon R. White is a husband, father, U.S. Army Veteran and a part of the Gas South Family.  Stephon was born on June 14, 1981 in Tifton, GA to Leo and Debra White.  He proved to be an excellent student throughout his educational endeavors and enjoyed growing up in Georgia.  After his high school graduation, Stephon enlisted in the United States Army.  He served active duty while stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana for many years.

Shortly after the tragic terrorist attack on 9/11 and the declaration of a “War on Terror” by President Bush, U.S. troops were sent overseas to fight in the Iraq War.  Stephon White was one of the many brave soldiers sent to fight for our country in 2003.  With a lot of prayer, bravery, and faith, he was able to survive the hard times and return home after serving overseas for almost a year and a half.

Stephon has been married to a lovely woman named Starr for 7 years and they have 3 beautiful daughters; Chyanne, Cierra and Camille. Stephon has been working for Gas South since August of 2011 as our accountant and has said that his favorite part of working here is the people. “Gas South has a great office environment and friendly employees, I have enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and look forward to a great career with this company!”

We are proud to have Stephon as a member of the Gas South family and we thank and honor him and his fellow troops on this Veteran’s Day for their invaluable service to our country.

We would also like to show appreciation for two more veterans at Gas South; Kimberly Middleton and Sandra Hamilton.

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Oct
31
2012
11:24 am

Natural Gas 101 – DDDC Factor

In the ‘Natural Gas 101’ series here on ‘The Hot Spot’, we will be writing different posts to help educate you on various natural gas issues.

What is DDDC?

Have you ever looked at your natural gas bill and wondered how it all comes together? One line of your bill includes your DDDC which stands for Dedicated Design Day Capacity.  The DDDC Factor is a calculation done by Atlanta Gas Light Company (AGL) and is unique to each home or business. Basically, AGL is responsible for having enough pipe and storage capacity to meet every customer’s need during extreme cold weather conditions. For most residential customers and small businesses, natural gas is used for heat. And when it’s cold outside, you’ll want enough natural gas to keep your home or business warm. Your DDDC factor indicates how much natural gas deliverability is reserved (or ‘dedicated’) for your home or business if Atlanta were to reach an average daily temperature of 10oF (a ‘design day’).  You’ll see the DDDC Factor on your bill because it is used to calculate a customer’s AGL Pass-Through Charges.

Why did my DDDC change?

AGL recalculates and updates the DDDC at your location annually, so each September you will see an updated DDDC on your bill.  During this yearly calculation, AGL reviews the past gas consumption and usage pattern at your home or business. The most important influence on your DDDC calculation is how much gas was used last year during the coldest period of the year compared to your typical summer usage (if any).  A calculation is done to determine how sensitive your consumption is to cold weather and then used to set your DDDC indicating how much capacity should be reserved for your home or business.  Because your DDDC affects the AGL Pass-Through Charges, you may see a change in the amount of your bills year to year if your DDDC is adjusted.

Remember, your DDDC is tied to your location rather than you. So, if you move, your DDDC will be changed to the DDDC of your new location and then will be reset, as usual, in September.

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

So, what do you want to learn about next?

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