When Darren Hanway went seeking a work culture that valued both his personal and work life, he ended up at Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
After more than seven years at SoCalGas, Hanway still says that both he and the nation’s largest natural gas utility have goals that resonate on several levels, from support of work and life balance, to committing to a positive environmental impact as a natural gas utility.
“It’s good to work for a company that supports work-life balance,” says Hanway, manager of energy programs and strategy. “That sends a good signal, and it creates a positive environment to collaborate and brainstorm. It shows the company values your contributions.”
Other ways that SoCalGas sends positive signals to both employees, and customers is in their stated goals, which includes an ambitious new goal for a natural gas utility.
“Last year we included a new vision, which is to become the cleanest gas utility in North America,” says Hanway.
Yes, natural gas is a fossil fuel, but there are other sources of gas, more environmentally friendly sources. And a cleaner gas utility, that delivers a fossil fuel, isn’t necessarily incompatible with sustainability. The SoCalGas vision includes the goal by 2030 of 20 percent of gas delivered through its pipelines to be sourced from renewable resources, such as biogas, synthetic gas, and hydrogen.
“Decarbonizing our pipelines helps the state meet its environmental goals while maintaining a safe and reliable system,” says Hanway. “And the support from our customers, and other gas utilities has been tremendous. There’s interests in partnerships, and finding synergies between other pipelines, and utilities.”
The SoCalGas pipelines serve a vast territory throughout southern and central California, from large agricultural tracts in the central valley, to the nation’s largest manufacturing base in Los Angeles.
“We serve 22 million customers across six million meters,” says Hanway, “from the Mexico border all the way to Fresno.”
And those customers allow Hanway to meet some of his personal work goals, like helping people and businesses save energy, and money. As the manger for energy programs, Hanway spends the majority of his time determining how customers can use energy more efficiently leading to meaningful savings on their monthly bills.
“It’s very fulfilling to see where even small things can help a residential customer save a few dollars per month on their bill,” says Hanway. “But those dollars can add up, and make a big difference in their lives.”
One of the tools used by Hanway and SoCalGas to bring customers savings is the Home Energy Report, delivered to more than 1 million residential customers per year. Additionally, SoCalGas processes more than 100,000 rebates yearly for customers that buy and install more efficient equipment.
“I work with a wide range of customers, and programs,” says Hanway. “One of our larger projects was a refinery, a large industrial customer. We found an opportunity with that customer to save several million therms.”
And seeing customers up close, on site visits, is one of the best parts of Hanway’s job. The visits, and energy audits he helps perform has created massive energy savings over the past two years.
“During a five-year period, we’ve helped customers save $229 million,” says Hanway, “and that’s for all customers, large industrial to residential.”
Working with any customers in the past few months has changed dramatically. Hanway works at home, and as does about half of the SoCalGas work force. The other half still reports to work daily, mostly for safety checks, and equipment repairs. Still, even remotely, Hanway finds new ways to interact with customers.
“Customer site visits for energy efficiency are not permitted during the lockdown,” says Hanway. “We utilize pictures, videos, and even geotagging. This can give us a virtual presence at customer’s sites.”
Serving customers, and saving them energy while finding balance in work and personal life, that’s all in a day’s work for Hanway, and hopefully everyone else at SoCalGas.
To learn more about SoCalGas’ customer programs, please visit socalgas.com/save-money-and-energy.