Tuesday, August 9, 2022

MLGW Observes National Call 811 Day


You’ve seen it on the news. A natural gas pipeline explosion in Durham, NC that kills two and injures 25. A report of a house blowing up in New Jersey. A story about a backhoe striking a natural gas pipeline causing a fire. A massive 2010 explosion in San Bruno, CA, destroys a neighborhood and kills eight. A contractor hits a gas line near Riverside, CA in July 2019 killing one and injuring 15. He didn’t call 811! Why?!? It happens way too often, and research shows the main cause of gas pipeline damage comes from pipeline strikes by contractors, excavators and homeowners, many of whom haven’t called to have their utility lines marked before digging.

So there are some numbers you should know by heart, and 811 is one of them. It’s almost as easy to remember as 911. And it’s a good way to avoid a situation that might actually require an emergency call to 911. An explosion... No one really wants that.

Thursday is National Call 811 Day, August 11 (8/11), and it reminds the public that calling before you dig prevents damage to underground utilities such as natural gas and electric lines and keeps residents safe. MLGW is promoting National Call 811 Day on August 11 to increase awareness in Memphis and Shelby County so residents will call 811 before starting any digging.

When residents call 811, underground utility lines on their property will be located and marked free of charge. Tennessee law requires that individuals give notice to the 811 center three business days (72 hours) before any digging begins so these utility lines can be located and marked. This service is free, and all residents who intend to excavate or have contractors excavate on their property are required to call or have their contractor call 811. You will know your utilities have been marked by the painted lines on the ground showing where those utilities are located.

Damage to utilities can occur during installation of a fence or mailbox, building a deck or additional room, and even gardening. “We want residents of Shelby County to realize that underground utility lines can be disturbed or damaged by common home improvement projects,” said J.T. Young, MLGW President and CEO. “Promoting awareness of National 811 Day will inform residents and customers to always 811 before you dig, stressing the importance of natural gas safety.” Digging without calling can result in damage to underground utility lines, harm to residents, disruption of neighborhood service, and fines and repair costs for those responsible.

If residents or contractors strike or damage a utility line in the process of excavation, they should immediately call MLGW and stop digging. Remember that natural gas smells like rotten eggs. If residents smell this strong odor, they should evacuate the area right away and call 911 and MLGW’s emergency line (528-4465) after leaving the area.

The best way to avoid dangerous gas pipeline situations is to always call 811 and have your utilities marked before you do any digging. For answers to frequently asked questions about Call 811 Before You Dig, check out Common Ground Alliance’s FAQs at http://commongroundalliance.com/programs/811/811-faqs. More information about calling 811 and natural gas pipeline safety can be found on MLGW’s website at www.mlgw.com.

Friday, August 5, 2022

And the APGA Award goes to…


In his 38 years with MLGW, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Alonzo Weaver hasn’t shied away from belting out a tune when the occasion called for it.

Early in his utility career he often sang with a quartet of MLGW officials that included Herman Morris, the former president of MLGW. He also still sings in his church choir at Mississippi Blvd. Disciples of Christ.

So, it wasn’t a surprise for many of the 250 who attended the recent American Public Gas Association conference in Minneapolis. As chairman, Weaver sang the national anthem a cappella to kick off the convention. (Check out a snippet of his performance on the employee app, LGW Connect.)

As outgoing chairman, Weaver touted the benefits of gas as being reliable, affordable and abundant with few interruptions of natural gas getting to customers’ homes. “If you have a power outage, gas can get you through,” he said.

Through the hard work of the APGA, Weaver also pointed out that public utilities can apply for federal grants to repair or replace its natural gas distribution pipeline systems. The federal legislation earmarked $200 million a year in grant funding over the next five years for a total of $1 billion. MLGW is seeking almost $60 million in grant funding for five projects.

APGA honored Weaver with is distinguished service award. While stepping down as chairman, Weaver will continue to serve on its board of directors.

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