Out of almost 100 submissions, and after over 1,700 votes were cast, the winners of the 2021 SGA Awards have been chosen by you, SGA’s valued members.
Thank you to all submitters, nominees, finalists, and winners who participated in the 2021 SGA Awards program, and to every member who participated in the voting process.
Please continue to bring recognition to the exceptional innovations and achievements in natural gas by submitting for an award in 2022 – nominations will open in January.
SGA is proud to celebrate these programs, initiatives, and individuals which represent true excellence in the natural gas industry:
Since 2017, Spire has provided all 3,600 employees across all of our service regions eight hours of paid time off to volunteer in their community with an organization or cause of their choice. This is known as their personal Day for Good. With operations in Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas and Wyoming, we’re committed to making a difference in the communities we serve.
Spire also operates a volunteerism campaign during the summer months, encouraging employees to use their Day for Good by providing pre-arranged volunteer opportunities with community partner organizations across the territories we serve. In 2020, Spire adjusted its volunteer program to ensure support for our communities during the coronavirus pandemic. While the pandemic provided many challenges, the organizing team laid out and implemented a clearly defined plan of action to meet its goals.
Due to coronavirus restrictions throughout 2020, many organizations did not offer volunteer opportunities, or the opportunities that were offered were limited to smaller groups to accommodate social distancing requirements. This made it challenging for many employees to find volunteer opportunities. To account for this, Spire placed an emphasis on identifying both virtual and safe in-person volunteer opportunities.
Activities varied from small groups participating in home-building events with Habitat for Humanity to individuals making cards at home for seniors in hospice care. Despite the challenges, year-over-year participation was nearly on par with previous years: 991 Spire employees completed 5,005 hours of volunteer service with 280 different organizations. This includes nearly 900 volunteer hours logged by senior leaders (approximately 100 directors, vice presidents and officers).
Weekly Industry Podcast that interviews thought leaders across the industry. The podcast brings technical, leadership development, and thought leadership to the industry. Energy World Net was the first to look inside after the shutdown of COVID-19 on how they could do outreach to connect. They sought out ways for each person on their team and people in the industry to stay connected, feel seen, continue to level up their technical skills, to enhance their leadership skills, and almost as important as all of that: weekly, they brought a sense of normalcy, humor and familiarity to all who tuned in.
Jim and James have a gift. Coffee with Jim and James powered by EWN feels like you are sitting down and watching a comedy/education program. They have a unique blend of humor and engage with the guests in a manner that is genuine. This is exactly how leadership within the industry looks like when someone new enters. This is a prime example of how we get additional people to join the energy industry. We welcome them, just as Jim and James do on their program.
At ONE Gas, we adopted API 1173 and Pipeline Safety Management Systems (PSMS) and made it our own by implementing the ONE Gas Safety Management Systems (OSMS) – consisting of 10 elements built on a Plan Do Check Act continuous improvement model. This model is an integral part of our Environmental Safety Health & Compliance (ESH&C) team’s governance program.
In 2018, with a focus on element 8, “Emergency Preparedness and Response,” we pivoted from responding to emergencies and began reshaping into an Integrated Emergency Management Program. An operational leader with extensive experience in this area was appointed as Director of Emergency Management and led this change.
The change began with a gap analysis – analyzing element 8 of API 1173, our regulatory requirements, internal practices, processes, programs, policies and procedures and our need to understand these two new terms “Unified Command/Incident Command Structures” and “external agencies and organizations”. The gap analysis revealed four areas that needed improvement.
We needed four new tactical plans in our Emergency Response Plan. These four areas have served us well in the last two years as the incidents we have experienced have touched all four: Pandemic, Security Threats, Loss of Utilities, and Civil Disturbances.
We needed to integrate Unified Command/ICS methodology into our procedures and our practices.
We needed to both participate in emergency management organizations where the “Whole Community” of Emergency Partnerships can be coordinated and be inclusive of them in our training and exercise programs.
We needed to refine our documents and processes of review and improvement for these activities to reflect the Plan, Do, Check, Act element of our OSMS. We needed Training and Development in an area that we had little experience – Homeland Security, FEMA, NIMS, and Incident Command Systems. Our Director of Emergency Management completed over 40 hours of FEMA/NIMS training both in classroom and online. He developed an internal training module for the field level employees and more in-depth training for the leadership team. It was particularly important for our company to retain our Gas Company Culture and be a Gas Company embracing Emergency Management and not an Emergency Management Agency that does Gas Company work. Our actions included:
Re-writing our Emergency Plan and related procedures, including a complementary Incident Command Systems Guideline.
Joining and participating in government-led emergency management agencies at the state, county and city levels and also their member associations of emergency partners at the regional and state levels.
Inviting emergency partners to participate in our training and exercises.
Developing an emergency response program that utilizes three categories. The program clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities of local operations and executive-level management. The program also outlines the activation criteria for each category. When the emergency response program reaches a category 1 emergency, the entire organization focuses on the incident and our senior executive team leads the management of the incident.
Developing and are refining documentation and processes to capture learning, developmental, and best practices from the engagement of emergency partners, exercises with them, and from the activations of our Emergency Response Plan.
On March 6, 2020, ONE Gas experienced its first COVID-19 case in Tulsa, Oklahoma. By the end of the next week, we activated our Pipeline Emergency Response Plan (PERP) to Level 2 and merged it with our cross-functional task force that was managing our Pandemic Plan. The activation of the PERP and the cross-functional team is still active today.
By embracing the FEMA/NIMS philosophy, we developed a four-level (Watch, Alert, Warning, and Critical) response plan based on the conditions, both internal and external, of our service areas. Each level corresponds to a different operational response. As our company advanced through the levels, we adjusted operations to minimize gas service disruptions, limit public and customer interactions, reduce resource requirements, and limit discretionary work in an effort to maintain safe and reliable natural gas service. Each level specifies the required PPE.
On March 16, 2020, we planned and initiated the process of transitioning nearly 50% of our workforce to a remote work environment. Our tentative Return to Office date is scheduled for September 7, 2021.
On March 7th, we engaged our injury case management and occupational health contractor – Axiom Medical. We elevated our program to a Medical Officer Review program to help us navigate through the COVID-19 Pandemic. We contracted with Axiom Medical to perform our employee COVID-19 protocol activated employee screening processes and have had more than 120% of our employee count inquires across the last 14 months. A personal screening application for smartphones was developed along with screening equipment and processes at our larger facilities. We acquired the proper COVID-19 PPE early and have not experienced a shortage of the required PPE to meet our protocols. We worked closely in all 3 states with our regulators to develop acceptable customer screening and response systems. Our Facilities have been reconfigured and marked, and we have developed new sanitization processes and equipped our facilities with newer HVAC air sanitization systems. For our employees, we added Paid Pandemic Leave to promote proper adherence to our new policies and procedures. We implemented a voluntary accommodation process for our vulnerable customer facing employees to take them out of harm’s way. We developed direct lines of communications with our 3 state’s departments of emergency EOC’s, Department of Health Agencies, and initiated and hosted one on one meetings with the leadership of the Vaccine Teams in all three states.
On February 9th and extending through February 19th the ONE Gas service territory experienced a historic and unprecedented 11-day long period of extreme and record-breaking cold weather. The cold air system led to the coldest air in decades across the Southern States, reaching all the way to the Rio Grande Valley, bringing crippling amounts of snow and ice to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas for an extended period.
During the event, we simultaneously experienced constrained supply and increased demand resulting in substantial challenges for system reliability. Curtailment plans were implemented. Customers were encouraged to conserve energy. Despite the challenges, less than 1,000 customers out of 2.2 million customers experienced loss of service during the event.
The Crisis Management Plan was activated on February 13, 2021, at 4:00 pm. On February 23, 2021, at 7:30 am, the Crisis Management Team determined that the situation had stabilized and deactivated the Crisis Management Plan.
We created a tool to stand between our data analytics and asset management systems to create work orders based upon data analytics alarms and our asset management system.
The Event Frame Management (EFM) tool was created to stand between our data analytics and asset management systems to create work orders based upon data analytics alarms. The OSI PIsoft data analytics system tracks multiple sensors and data points from our compressor fleet and places them into a data historian. When a data point is outside of parameters it logs an event frame with an alarm that is sent to our reliability engineers/specialists. Inside the Event Frame Management tool, the recorded event frames are captured electronically and reviewed by the reliability team based upon criticality. If an alarm requires onsite technicians to repair or look further into the alarm, with the push of a button the EFM tool will create an inspection work order in our asset management system with criticality and timeframe for scheduling the inspection.
Work order information captured upon investigation helps refine data analytics. Reliability Engineers and Specialists no longer have to create work requests manually for these efforts and additional data from work order completion is helpful for review and future enhancements.
As a result of this EFM tool, we have significantly reduced the amount of time required to build work orders for onsite review of critical alarms. In addition, we are able to capture additional data in the work orders from onsite inspections pertinent to the alarm that we generated from the OSI PIsoft program. Our reliability team has welcomed the reduction in effort to generate work orders that were previously done by hand. Our field technicians also have a standardized format with a work order to review the issue called out by the PIsoft system. The field technicians also have an embedded problem code in the work order to help guide them in their onsite inspection.
With completed EA-identified work order data, Southern Star can now review PI Event Frames against field inspection data. EAM provides historical work order data that can be used to reveal repeat issues on a particular asset or solutions for similar assets based upon similar PI Event Frames. EAM work order data can also be used to refine critical setpoints that create PI Event Frames to extend predictive maintenance while still ensuring asset reliability and efficiency.
From a business perspective, we now have a complete loop of information regarding our reliability alarms. When an inspection work order is generated from the EFM tool the information and problem code from the event frame alarm is embedded in the work order. The technician uses this information to guide their onsite inspection. Preset codes for Failure, Cause, and Action to repair are part of the work order closing process for the technician. As event frames are reviewed against completed work orders that information is being used to find recurring patterns of failure as well as refine critical setpoints for alarm creation. In addition, data trends are being used to improve reliability on assets of similar kind and run parameters. We now see an increase in reliability across our entire footprint as a result of this innovation.
In an effort to reduce emissions and mitigate the company’s impact on climate change, in 2020 Summit Utilities, Inc. (Summit) piloted methane recapture technology in two states. Summit’s teams challenged themselves to be innovative leaders in the natural gas industry and pursued studying the feasibility of methane recapture technology as a 2020 ESG goal. Thanks to the pioneering spirit of Summit’s engineering and operations teams, they determined that not only was the technology feasible it was worth trying that very year. To minimize social and environmental impact, Summit utilized Zero Emissions Vacuum and Compression (ZEVAC ®) to capture and reuse gas that would otherwise have been emitted into the atmosphere through normal construction/operation practices.
These pilots demonstrated a step forward for the company as it works to reduce emissions on its system and limit its environmental impact. By simply piloting this technology twice, Summit was able to save approximately 28.1 metric tons of CO2e, which is equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for one year.
As a result of this pilot program, methane recapture was included in Summit’s Standard Operating Procedure for Purging a Pipeline. All high-volume purges must now consider methane recapture, if practical.
Warren Migaud Jr. – Lifesaving story
A smart guy told me one time the challenge with a lifelong commitment to safety is you that will never really know the things you do that make a difference in people’s lives and you will spend most of your time investigating and dealing with the things that did not go right. That was not the case yesterday for Warren Migaud Jr. (Mechanic – West Palm Beach).
Warren came upon a terrible accident along the Florida Turnpike on the way to work Thursday 3/11/21. He noticed a large F450-style truck rolled over and on fire but no one around. As I am sure many of us have observed in our travels, other vehicles traveling down the Turnpike moved around the accident headed to their daily destination thinking, “I hope folks are ok.”
Not Warren, once he was safely by, he pulled to the median and grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran back to the truck. Surprisingly the windows were not broken, and the truck cab was full of smoke from the fire. Warren could not tell what was going on inside, but he heard voices calling for help.
Warren got a maul from his truck and broke out a couple of windows so he could discharge the fire extinguisher. There was a guy in the truck whose legs were on fire. By this time other people saw what was going on, some stopped and brought additional fire extinguishers. Warren discharged multiple fire extinguishers and was eventually able to get the fire out and cut the passengers’ safety belts to position them for fresh air. He washed their faces and stood by to comfort and support them until emergency responders arrived. The passengers were not able to be extracted from the vehicle until the fire department arrived on the scene in about 15 minutes with the jaws of life. Two men lived through that event who would not have had a chance without Warren taking matters into his own hands and making a difference. Two other passengers did not survive the accident.
Warren truly is an Energy Transfer Lifesaver and I am proud to know that I am a part of this team every day.
Fire-fighting and first aid training.
TC Energy started a program to focus on mental health in the workplace and beyond. The company was hoping to find champions to promote mental in their respective business groups, and April Keatley answered the call. April has been a driving force behind the program in the TC Energy Technical and Operational Services (TOS) group.
When the work from home/quarantine began, April started posting formal communications to the TOS team channels to educate the group on a variety of topics from potential warning signs in others, self-evaluation, communication strategies related to concerns, stress relief, and many other mental health topics.
April has been brave enough to share her struggles with us to encourage and empower others to tackle the often-silent suffering that accompanies mental health struggles. In a particularly personal post from November, she recounted how her mental health issues began to affect her physical wellness as a warning for the rest of us. She recounted the challenges those events brought including hospital stays and surgery. But the thing that cried out to me from her account was the feelings around stepping away from work and co-workers having to carry her workload. This is emblematic of so many of us in today’s world. We feel like we can’t even take a vacation without keeping up with emails or making those “important” conference calls.
April’s communications reach over 550 individuals on a weekly basis, I often see responses and comments from people on those posts. And surprisingly they are almost always from different people. The variety of April’s content has a way of reaching people where they are. That is crucial to the effectiveness of the program. April says “It’s important to me that I can support anyone experiencing a mental health disorder. Whether that be through sharing my own experience, modeling positive behaviors or just being there to listen, help someone find the right resources…” And I can assure you her efforts have positively impacted at least one of us.