May
31
2013
5:08 pm

Atlanta, a foodie’s paradise

From the desk of Chris Coan, VP & GM of Business and Governmental Markets at Gas South.

The Atlanta Visitors & Convention Bureau (ACVB) is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The city will be hosting many events and recognizing great leaders who have helped Atlanta and the ACVB reach this milestone. Atlanta’s reputation as a “foodie’s paradise” is growing rapidly and the ACVB and Gas South are teaming together to sponsor Atlanta’s 100 Signature Dishes. Throughout 2013, chefs from all over Atlanta will feature their signatures dishes and, if you pace yourself, you can eat all 100 entrees by the end of the year. Not to be outdone by the great food, restaurants and bars will also be featuring 100 signature cocktails. Visit your favorite mixologist and try their wonderful creations. If you are wondering where to find all these great places to eat, check out Atlanta Eats.  Gas South is proud to sponsor the new TV show as their host, Steak Shapiro, searches Atlanta for great meals. Visit their website and check out the restaurants featured in season one.

Gas South would also like to congratulate John C. Metz, Jr., CEO, Executive Chef and co-founder of Sterling Spoon Culinary Management. John has been honored as the 2013 Gold Plate Award recipient by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), which recognizes excellence in eight segments of foodservice operations. John is the creator of several Atlanta-area concepts, including Market Street Café, Aqua Blue and Marlow’s Tavern. Gas South has worked with John and his team for many years and greatly appreciates his business and his friendship.

Now it’s time to quench your thirst and enjoy a delicious meal (or 100). As they say in the business, “Come hungry and come often”!

-Chris

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?

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.

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

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!

Apr
12
2013
1:59 pm

Gas South ‘Brings the Heat’ in 2013

Much has changed for the Atlanta Braves this season. Hometown hero Chipper Jones has retired and the lineup is crowded with exciting new faces, such as the Upton brothers.

But some things haven’t changed. For the sixth straight year, Gas South will donate $25 to a local charity each time a Braves pitcher records a strikeout, as part of our Bring the Heat® campaign. When a strikeout takes place at Turner Field, you’ll see fireworks erupting from Gas South’s iconic sign in right field.  This celebratory display will signify that Gas South has donated another $25 to charity. This year’s proceeds will benefit the United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Since 2008, Gas South has contributed more than $172,000 to Georgia nonprofits through Bring the Heat®.  Just last year alone, the Atlanta Braves recorded 1,232 strikeouts, helping us raise $61,600 for Georgia charities. It’s yet another reason to cheer when everyone’s favorite closer, Craig Kimbrell strikes out the competition.

By partnering with the Braves for Bring the Heat®, we are able to fulfill our commitment to give back to the communities we serve.

So as you enjoy your hot dog (or gourmet steak sandwich!) at Turner field this season, be sure to take note of the Gas South sign and lend your loudest voice and best tomahawk chop to our Braves pitchers. Because the more strikeouts they pitch, the more money we donate to the United Way.

Go Braves!

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.

Mar
21
2013
10:22 am

Junior Achievement Day

Gas South volunteers at Norton Park Elementary

Gas South employees recently talked about business and entrepreneurship to 4th and 5th-grade students at Norton Park Elementary School in Smyrna, as part of the company’s participation in the Junior Achievement program.

Junior Achievement is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills among young people. Gas South has been participating in the Junior Achievement program for several years, helping children and teens across Georgia develop long-term career goals and gain a greater understanding of the business world. The goal of the program is to create a better-skilled workforce in Georgia.

Gas South employees relish the chance to give back to the community, and the children are always excited at the opportunity to break away from their everyday routine. It’s always a great day for everyone involved!

Have you volunteered with Junior Achievement before? Share your story here or find out how to get involved by checking out the organization’s website.

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.

 

 

 

Feb
22
2013
11:31 am

Gas South goes to the Circus

Mance, Camille and Lloyd Irvin from Decatur

You’ve all heard of the Greatest Show on Earth, right? Gas South helps make it great for local special needs children by partnering with the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association, the Georgia Municipal Association and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus producer, Feld Entertainment to host a pre-show event just for them and their families.

Last week, Gas South hosted more than 200 special needs children at Philip’s Arena for a night of circus magic. Working with our partners, we provided them with free admission to the Friday night show and a unique pre-show event created especially for our guests. The children interacted with circus animals and performers on the arena floor, enjoying full VIP treatment and experiences tailored to their special needs.  It truly was a magical night!

Cooper Radford from Atlanta makes friends with a clown.

Melissa Waller Longshore, the mother of twin boys who both have cerebral palsy, wrote to us to tell us about their experience at Philip’s last week, “Gas South, I want to thank you for allowing 425 special needs families an opportunity to attend the Ringling Brothers circus. I was one of those 425 families and I want to speak for those special needs families who attended the circus and let you know that your actions speak volumes about who you are as people and about Gas South, the company. That you see merit in reaching out to the community, every member in it, that you see value in people. I wanted to let you know that your generosity meant so much to so many….Thank you.”

We are now gearing up for more circus fun tonight at Gwinnett Center! We’ll be hosting the whole event again for another big group and we couldn’t be more excited.

Stay tuned for more pictures and updates next week. So, what’s your favorite circus memory?

Gas South employees, Wakeeta and Geoffrey team up with a circus clown to get ready to greet our guests!

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