Dallas, TX – The Southern Gas Association is honored to announce the winners of the 2023 SGA Awards across seven categories:
- INNIO Waukesha Gas Engines, Inc., Community Service
- Southern Company Gas, Corporate Communications
- Atmos Energy, Emergency Management
- TC Energy, Engineering Innovation
- Atmos Energy, Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG)
- Summit Utilities, Safety & Health
- Meritorious Action, List of individual winners listed below
The winners were selected from 61 submissions with more than 1,500 votes cast from Southern Gas Association members.
For decades, the Southern Gas Association has been an important forum for recognizing leading natural gas companies across the United States and Canada. SGA Awards recognize members who are advancing the natural gas industry. Our aim is to support and showcase the great work of companies who have achieved real, measurable business outcomes in their organizations.
SGA Awards recognize individuals and teams for their technical contributions, professional excellence, career achievement, service to colleagues, industry leadership and community service.
INNIO Waukesha Gas Engines, Inc. — Waukesha Engine Supports the City of Waukesha
Following the Waukesha Christmas parade attack in November 2021, INNIO Waukesha Gas Engines Inc. (Waukesha Engine) made the decision to increase its sponsorship of and participation in community events hosted by the City of Waukesha. As a member of its namesake city since 1906, Waukesha Engine felt strongly that members of the community needed opportunities to come together and honor the city’s strength and resilience. To that end, Waukesha Engine and its employees sponsored and/or participated in the following City of Waukesha events in 2022:
4th of July Parade – A staple of the City of Waukesha’s Independence Day celebrations, Waukesha Engine had a float in the parade that showcased the company’s reUp remanufactured engines that are produced at the company’s facility in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Employees accompanied the reUp remanufactured engines along the parade route, handing out various goodies to people in the crowd.
Tribute Tuesday – On the second Tuesday of the month (June – September), the City of Waukesha hosts a concert in a local park that is free to the public. Waukesha Engine was proud to sponsor the August concert, Earth to Mars: The Bruno Mars Experience. As a kick-off to the concert, a company representative was invited to say a few words about Waukesha Engine’s role in the community. Many employees attended and danced the night away with fellow concertgoers.
Monday Night Movies in the Park – A crowd favorite with City of Waukesha families, Monday Night Movies in the Park occur on the third Monday of the month (June – August). Members of the community are invited to bring their blankets and camp chairs and enjoy a family-friendly movie under the stars. Waukesha Engine sponsored the August movie presentation and was glad to see families, as well as local Boy Scout troops and church youth groups, take advantage of this opportunity.
Waukesha Unlocked – Every other year, the City of Waukesha invites businesses, churches, historical landmarks, etc. to open their doors and give members of the community a behind-the-scenes look at what takes place at their facility. This year, Waukesha Engine offered a plethora of free, family-friendly activities to its guest (i.e., petting zoo, face painting, bounce houses). Additionally, guests were invited to tour Waukesha Engine’s reUp remanufacturing operations. This gave attendees a glimpse into how the company supports environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.
Operation Honor: A Salute to Veterans – Each November, the City of Waukesha hosts Operation Honor: A Salute to Veterans. Active-duty military personnel and veterans, as well as their family members and friends, are invited to come to the event and are treated to a live musical performance and a free dinner. Waukesha Engine was honored to sponsor this year’s event and a company representative highlighted the link between strong communities and those that are willing to serve.
Results/Response to the Program
The results of Waukesha Engine’s sponsorship of and participation in the City of Waukesha’s events were twofold.
Firstly, in the wake of a tremendous tragedy, these events provided members of the community with an opportunity to reestablish a sense of normalcy. Families, neighbors and different organizations were able to use these events to gather and enjoy one another’s company. These events helped bolster a community grappling with a tremendous loss, looking for a way to move forward. Waukesha Engine firmly believes that its 117-year legacy is due in no small part to the people in its hometown and feels privileged to have been able to help when needed.
Secondly, Waukesha Engine’s sponsorship of and participation in the City of Waukesha’s events allowed a spotlight to be shined on a local business with ties to the natural gas industry. Many feel a sense of uncertainty when thinking about the country’s energy future. Waukesha Engine’s participation in these events provided a forum for education on the role that natural gas can play as a reliable, clean energy source for many years to come. It helped make a big (and often misunderstood) industry seem a little more accessible and relatable.
Southern Company Gas — Southern Company Gas and NEI Get Dirty with Mike Rowe Safe Digging Campaign
Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states, along with approximately 600,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities.
Gas pipelines share a universe of infrastructure beneath our feet, including: cable; internet and telephone lines; water service; sewer lines; electrical lines; and traffic signal lines. Contacting 811 at least three business days before starting any digging project is free and is required by state law. When homeowners and contractors contact 811, it notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.
Third-party damages are the single greatest threat to Southern Company Gas’ pipeline distribution system, so ensuring our neighbors and businesses understand the importance of safe digging by contacting 811 is a top priority.
No-calls result in about 20% of damages. Getting the message out to contact 811 from our service territories, in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and Virginia reinforces our mission – to help prevent damage to underground utilities and promote public safety.
In 2022, as National 811 (Aug. 11) Day neared, Southern Company Gas and its operating companies got in the trenches alongside the National Excavator Initiative (NEI) and brought along one of America’s most trusted personalities, executive producer, Emmy-winning host, bestselling author, podcaster and skilled-trades advocate, Mike Rowe. Mike’s animated alter ego, Micro Mike Rowe, joined to spread the word on the importance of contacting 811 before you dig.
Known for the hit TV series, “Dirty Jobs,” “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” and his Facebook show, “Returning the Favor,” Mike and his animated sidekick highlight the critical importance of underground utility infrastructure. With some earthy humor, they shared what can — and likely will — go wrong if homeowners and contractors don’t contact 811 before digging.
Partnering with NEI, Mike connects with industry experts who help educate the public and professional excavators about the 811 process. Through a $75,000 investment with NEI to partner with Mike, the campaign included radio, print, online media and billboards.
Results/Response to the Program
Southern Company Gas delivered a fully integrated digital and traditional media safe digging campaign that garnered 422+ million impressions with one of America’s most trusted personalities and skilled-trades advocates, Mike Rowe, to achieve the company’s second best-year for reductions in total pipeline damage ratio. Total damage ratio is the number of damages to the company’s pipeline infrastructure per 1,000 locate tickets. The campaign netted an average 10% increase in 811 calls across the company’s service territories and a 10% reduction in damages in the first months of the campaign.
Atmos Energy — Mobile Command Center
In 2022, Atmos Energy launched a brand new Mobile Command Center that is customized to meet the needs of our industry during an emergency event. The 10-tire vehicle measures 45 feet long, 12 feet tall and 9 feet wide (18 feet when fully extended). Inside is a conference room with a fixed-center table, eight chairs, flip-down benches for additional seating and a 55-inch high-resolution monitor. The middle of the vehicle holds a printer and kitchen equipment. The rear room includes six workstations with 32-inch monitors, dry erase boards and a 43-inch display monitor on the back wall. Outside, a weatherproof workstation houses a large display monitor connected to the workstations inside. Employees can gather around the screen and view maps and other outage information.
The Mobile Command Center also provides all the I.T. functionality that a traditional office delivers, including data connectivity for laptops and tablets, print capabilities and audio-visual displays that allow viewing of information on screens inside and outside the vehicle.
Construction of the unit began in 2020. The pandemic delayed delivery of the chassis, computer chips, screens and other items. The unit was finally delivered to the Altamesa Service Center in Fort Worth in mid-November. Not a day too soon, it turns out. The 3,400-customer unplanned outage in Frisco and Little Elm began on the morning of Nov. 17.
Results/Response to the Program
Atmos Energy’s Mobile Command Center was first called into action during a 3,400-customer unplanned outage in November. It was extremely valuable in resolving the disruption by giving the restoration team a state-of-the-art workspace located exactly where it was needed – instead of many miles away at the nearest office or service center. The team was able to rout technicians and track the progress of restored customers, while the conference room inside allowed for meetings with city officials and emergency personnel, who were impressed by the command center’s onsite capabilities. Maps and other information were displayed on a large screen, providing helpful visuals of our restoration plan.
One of our customers, Jon Meleshenko, even deployed his personal drone to capture aerial footage of the Mobile Command Center, which was established in the parking lot of a local athletic complex. Jon then used his footage to produce a “Thank You” video which he posted on social media: https://youtu.be/ziGiNsCS5Gw. (the Mobile Command Center is first visible at 02:00)
After the tornado hit in March 2023, the Atmos Energy Mobile Command Center was deployed to Rolling Fork, Mississippi to assist with restoration efforts. Located behind city hall, which was severely damaged in the storm, Mayor Eldridge Walker uses the Mobile Command Center as his office to conduct city business. Because of our command center’s presence, first responders, nonprofit organizations, elected officials, media and federal agencies are able to meet with Atmos Energy employees as we work to restore gas service in the town.
TC Energy — GeoForce – Geospatial Threat Management Toolset
TC Energy owns and operates over 32,000 miles of natural gas pipelines within 38 states in the United States, a sizable portion of which crosses through terrain highly susceptible to geologic hazards. To better support geohazard risk management, TC Energy has implemented a customized web-based geohazard platform (GeoForce) to identify, inventory, and track geohazards across their U.S. pipeline system. The platform was built within the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) ArcGIS Enterprise environment and leverages a diverse amount of ESRI product offerings. The platform is hosted on ArcGIS Portal and includes multiple custom apps and dashboards which allow users to efficiently view, summarize, add, and update geohazard data. Another key component of the system is a connection to ArcGIS GeoEvent Server. GeoEvent Server allows for the delivery of near real-time geohazard threat notifications through emails and dashboards (i.e., seismic events, flooding, precipitation). The notifications also provide detailed information for the sections of the system affected by the event, and in the case of a seismic event, a suggested course of action in alignment with TC Energy procedures. ArcGIS Image Server was leveraged to host over 5 terabytes of LiDAR imagery which can be used in concert with the other geohazard datasets present in the database. Custom geospatial scripts were also developed to create a near real-time link between the GeoForce master database and TC Energy’s master data mart, asset information, regulatory, and other organizational data. These scripts flag and report where spatial and/or attribute data have changed or may no longer be valid and therefore require follow-up action to support risk management (e.g., when pipelines are abandoned, HCAs are updated, or pipe properties are updated). The scripts also store the centerline attribute changes in a table for further review to identify potential trends. The GeoForce database is also built as a launching platform for proactive analytics, and eventually predictive analytics for critical precipitation thresholds for landslide risk management, landslide susceptibility mapping, system-wide risk scoring, seismic events and ILI bending strain coincident with geohazards. Details related to the threat alerts that are issued by the geospatial system are stored and visualized in a PowerBI integration. With the incorporation of ArcGIS Notebook Server, algorithms will be developed that will review the historical threat repository that is being generated and issue threat alerts based on probability of a hazardous event occurring in proximity of the pipeline system.
Results/Response to the Program
The GeoForce program has been very successful in better supporting geohazard threat management for TC Energy by centralizing data into a single geospatial platform that is used daily by members of the Weather and Outside Forces (WOF) geohazard threat management team. Geohazards actively managed under TC Energy’s WOF program include landslides, subsidence threats (e.g., karst and underground mining), seismic threats (ground shaking, liquefaction, and fault rupture), pipeline exposures, and water crossings. Spatial and attribute data for all actively managed threats are stored in the GeoForce database. GeoForce was developed to quickly bring up site-specific information, cross-reference adjacent threats, and leverage other internal TC datasets (e.g., pipe properties, LiDAR, ILI data, Class and HCA locations, etc.) to support efficient risk assessment and overall threat management. Each individual threat may contain a large amount of information that needs to be entered, standardized, queried, and tracked over the lifespan of the pipeline system. The data management needs can be overwhelming if an operator has thousands of threat sites to manage over time. To better assist with data management all threat locations in the GeoForce database have the framework to include assessment history, instrumentation, monitoring, and mitigation history, as well as supplemental links that direct users to field reports, photos, and project-specific information. In the web-based platform the WOF team can rapidly view, query, and inventory new geohazard threat data and readily cross reference spatial threat data with other TC Energy datasets.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL & GOVERNANCE (ESG)
Atmos Energy — Kentucky’s Fish Habitat
Atmos Energy recognizes the value of protecting the natural environment, and we work to minimize our impact in the areas where we operate. Before beginning a project, we conduct a comprehensive environmental review to understand our potential impact on water resources, state- and federal-listed species, habitat, and cultural resources. When a project is finished, we strive to leave the smallest possible footprint.
Since 2015, employees in Kentucky have partnered with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to provide discarded piping for underwater fish “trees” in lakes and reservoirs throughout the state. These artificial fish habitats are structures that provide shelter and sustain freshwater fish, providing places where they can spawn, feed, hide, and grow to maturity.
In constructing the fish habitats, a large-width pipe forms the “trunk,” which can be anywhere from 6 to 8 feet tall. To attach smaller “limbs” to the trunk, a hole saw is used to drill small openings up and down the trunk. Pegs made from small-diameter gas pipe hold the “limbs” in place. The 20-by-20-inch base is made from a wooden frame reinforced with rebar and filled with concrete. After the concrete sets, the base weighs approximately 120 pounds. Several trees are then placed on a trailer and hauled to a state-owned or state-managed lake, where they are loaded onto a work boat for deployment.
Results of/Response to the Program
In 2022, this project received a Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council. Since program inception, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ Fisheries Division has used more than 80,000 feet (15.15 miles) of scrap or expired Atmos Energy pipe that was destined for a landfill. The pipe has been used to construct more than 3,000 fish habitat structures in more than 20 lakes and reservoirs across Kentucky.
SAFETY & HEALTH
Summit Utilities — Colorado Natural Gas (CNG) Safety Milestone
Summit Utilities, Inc.’s subsidiary, Colorado Natural Gas, achieved six years of no recordable injuries in 2016 because of the company’s safety program — most notably our “Stop Work Authority” procedure.
Team members at Summit and CNG strive to live the company’s PEAKS Values in every aspect of the business. PEAKS values are the core of the company representing Pioneering, Excellence, Agility, Kindness, and Safety.
At Summit, exemplifying Safety means prioritizing the Safety of our colleagues, customers, and communities while performing our duties. This is achieved through a comprehensive and consistent training program, encouraging a safety-first culture combined with a speak-up culture, ensuring proper personal protection needs are always available and utilized, and, most importantly, holding ourselves and other team members accountable. In addition, Summit Utilities Stop Work Authority Procedure states, “Every team member has the authority and responsibly to stop work that does not follow safe work practices or comply with all applicable regulations.”
Even in Colorado’s diverse and, at times, harsh environmental conditions, with demanding workloads and varying levels of experience, the six-year injury-free milestone was attained due to the level of importance the CNG team members put on safety every day in every job.
Senior EHS Specialist Joe Wilkes said, “One of the biggest factors is that every person on this team takes ownership in the Safety Program, they watch out for each other, they come to work every morning with the goal that all of them are going to go home safe that evening.” He added that the key to that is speaking up if you see an issue and not being afraid to ask for what you need to perform the job safely. It is always holding yourself and others accountable for safety. That mutual accountability is never taken offensively; it is, instead, appreciated.
Results of/Response to the Program
In 2022 CNG hit a safety milestone of 6 years with no recordable injuries.
Meet the Honorees
SGA’s Meritorious Action Award celebrates individuals who have displayed courageous actions to save or attempt to save lives. SGA salutes individuals who have displayed heroic action or quick thinking to save the lives of others. All nominees in this category were honored at the 2023 Awards Ceremony. You can read their heroic stories at https://awards.southerngas.org/merit23
Houston Sutherland, Summit Utilities, Inc.
Chris Main, Atmos Energy
Adam Mathes, Southern Star Central Gas Pipelines
Shane Richardson, ONE Gas
Michael Herrera, TECO People’s Gas
Brian Orcutt, Miller Pipeline
Hot Tap Team, BGE
Logan Workman, Miller Pipeline
Matt Keith, Miller Pipeline
Bailey Borgeld, Miller Pipeline
Karl Schultz, Miller Pipeline
Don Barber, Miller Pipeline
Charlie Nickles, Miller Pipeline
Ray Philo, Miller Pipeline
Nathan Nickels, Miller Pipeline
Mike Huber, Miller Pipeline
Frank Wilson, Miller Pipeline
James Lauffer, Miller Pipeline
Marshall Delk, Miller Pipeline
View all submissions and the winners at https://southerngas.org/sga-awards
About Southern Gas Association
Founded in 1908, the Southern Gas Association is the leader in natural gas training and professional development. SGA is a community of natural gas professionals across the U.S. and Canada. Representing the industry from drill bit to burner tip, SGA’s membership comprises more than 200 operators across the distribution, transmission, and gas supply marketing sectors and more than 350 industry partners. Through digital and in-person engagement, SGA members share ideas, resources, and best practices to develop people, relationships, and solutions.