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Company Reports - Philadelphia Gas Works  

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Philadelphia Gas Works

Philadelphia Gas Works: Service for a City

Sharise Cruz

Through a commitment to community and employees alike, Philadelphia Gas Works has become one of the country's finest utilities
Philadelphia Gas Works: Service for a City

For over 176 years, Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) has served the City of Philadelphia as a dedicated green utility. PGW’s long and storied history within the fabric of Philadelphia traces all the way back to its very first action of lighting 46 natural gas lights along Second Street in 1836.

 

With more than 500,000 commercial, industrial and residential customers and 84 percent saturation of residential heating in the City of Philadelphia, PGW is the nation’s largest municipally owned natural gas utility.

 

Natural gas is transported to PGW by two direct interstate pipelines, but PGW also operates a liquefied natural gas facility to meet peak day and winter requirements. The facility’s dual 12-story tanks store over four billion cubic feet of natural gas and have remained among the country’s largest since they were constructed in the 1970s. It has saved customers more than $2.5 billion in the last 35 years.

 

A Dedicated Employer of Choice

 

Because nearly all of PGW’s 1,630 employees live in the City of Philadelphia, the company’s role in the community is deeply rooted.

 

“I’ve been here 32 years,” says PGW President and CEO Craig White. “We have a lot of folks, like me, who have friends or relatives who have worked at the company or who have been associated with the company and we have a good relationship with each other. People tell me all the time that they enjoy the work environment at PGW and they love the people they work with.”

 

PGW is enthusiastic about serving its staff and establishing itself as an employer of choice. But PGW’s commitment to excellence isn’t retained within its own walls. Employees are active throughout the community and volunteer with charitable programs.

 

 “As I understand it, Philadelphia is the poorest city with a population over one million. Therefore, we have many residents in need,” says White. “We have a tremendous number of employees who participate in programs throughout the City to help people.”

 

PGW staff also take on roles of significance with energy industry associations and committees throughout Philadelphia, the state and the nation.

 

In addition to serving as chair of the Energy Association Board of Directors, White has served as chair of the gas board of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania twice and been on the board of the American Public Gas Association, the American Gas Association and the National Petroleum Council.

 

PGW’s consistent relationship with the industry has proven to be mutually beneficial.

 

“We expose our employees to what other folks are doing and the energy community gets to see the quality of worker we have here at PGW,” White says.

 

PGW also works with a number of colleges and high schools to encourage students and recent graduates interested in career development to get involved in the industry. Even through economic instability, PGW has fully retained its career training programs.

 

“By providing access to training and industry associations, promoting diversity in the workforce, and reaching out to public schools and colleges, we have positioned ourselves as an employer of choice,” says White.

 

Continuous Improvement

 

In 2005, PGW implemented a significant business transformation initiative, through which it has enhanced its technology and improved its procedures, greatly improving customer satisfaction and reducing costs.

 

In addition to the significant benefits realized from its business transformation initiative, PGW has introduced numerous customer options and developed a superior marketing team, enabling the company to provide the type of services PGW customers truly desire.

 

“By strengthening our marketing department, we have not only continued to serve as the experts on natural gas, but we have also developed tremendous expertise on building systems and equipment,” White says.

 

PGW’s customers are becoming increasingly in-tune with contributing to energy efficiency and a clean environment, so PGW works to address those concerns and provide solutions for both.

 

There have been significant opportunities for PGW in combined heat and power (creating heat and electricity with a single fuel) and the utility has found that  generating power on site versus transporting that power from a remote source (generating power or heat at the customer’s location) is incredibly efficient.

 

PGW has also been working intensively with liquefied natural gas for truck fueling and compressed natural gas for small, light duty vehicles.

 

“We envision natural gas as motor fuel presenting PGW with a huge marketing opportunity, especially with its abundance of supply and the stability of its price,” White says.

 

One of PGW’s most notable initiatives is the expansion of its energy efficiency program, known as “Energy Sense” from a $2.2 million program to an average annual spend program of $13 million. PGW’s Energy Sense program consists of a robust rebate program that applies to all PGW customers, and a significantly improved and expanded low income weatherization program. PGW’s Energy Sense program is the largest natural gas utility energy efficiency program in the state of Pennsylvania.

 

In a League of its Own

 

As a municipal company with no shareholders, PGW is able to provide customers with a level of service that many other utilities simply cannot match.

 

“We have no shareholders to pay and no stock dividends to issue, so any dollars that we generate are used to keep costs under control and to provide service to our customers,” says White. “It’s a closed loop. We want to increase customer satisfaction and one of the pieces of that is becoming even more a part of the fabric of Philadelphia with all the things we do. We’re going beyond being just a gas distribution operation.”

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