Atmos Energy is not just your average, everyday natural gas company. They rank as one of the largest natural-gas only distributors in the country. With over thirty years of experience in providing natural gas services to their customers, Atmos is a trusted and reliable source of energy for approximately 3 million customers in Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. That’s a huge growth over their customer base of 279,000 customers in 1983, growth that was fueled primarily by acquiring more utility assets.
In Texas, the state famous for having everything being bigger, Atmos has one of the largest transmission and storage systems for natural gas there. With roughly 6,000 miles of transmission pipelines, the Atmos pipeline - Texas is connected to three major market centers within Texas alone, and its infrastructure runs in or near existing and proposed natural gas production fields.
Giving Back to the Community
Beyond simply being a trusted provider of natural gas to millions across the country, Atmos Energy is dedicated to the well-being of the communities that they serve. Each year, Atmos employees volunteer thousands of hours of labor each year to charitable programs such as the United Way, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and dozens of other community outreach programs. Atmos also helps low-income families pay their natural gas bills and provides energy-saving items and advice to help those in need to lower their energy bills.
As they say on their website, “Doing the right thing is the way we do business at Atmos Energy,” and their continuous support for the communities that they service is just one way that they prove it. While Atmos’ massive pipeline and community outreach are both impressive and newsworthy subjects, they aren’t the reasons why Atmos was most recently featured in the news.
An Incredible Simulation
The cause for Atmos’ most recent news article is something that helps to ensure that they serve their community in the right way, but it isn’t an outreach program: it’s their training program.
If you head to the Charles K. Vaughan Center in Plano, Texas, you can expect to find not only the bustling headquarters of one of the nation’s largest natural gas providers (and even officers from other natural gas companies), but a seemingly abandoned town called “Gas City” as well. Despite the fact that most of the buildings are empty, the “town” is anything but abandoned. As a matter of fact, it is a sizeable training center designed to give Atmos employees and first-response emergency crews an example of how a real natural gas emergency might unfold in a real-life situation. This is the kind of training that not only gives workers a sense of what they can expect to encounter during the course of their duties, it can help relay important, practical experience that might just save lives later on down the road.
The roughly 11-acre large facility boasts numerous features to simulate what Atmos’ employees might find in the field, such as:
- Manufactured plumbing faults- These allow Atmos employees to get used to spotting problems so that home and business owners can be notified. They may not be plumbers, but they are dedicated to making sure that homeowners aren’t caught unaware by plumbing faults.
- Five simulation buildings- These structures simulate the layout of both private residences and commercial buildings.
- Underground compressed air system- This system allows the pipes in the simulation area to simulate blowing pressure to provide experience with pressurized systems in a safe, controlled environment.
- Traps- Certain items in the neighborhood have incorrectly installed components, faulty equipment, and other problems that trainees will be better equipped to recognize after encountering them in safe, controlled conditions.
- “Animals”- The simulation also includes the use of speakers and stickers to train employees to recognize where potentially dangerous, or just plain annoying, animals might be found when taking a meter reading. From dog barks that could provide forewarning of an attack, to stickers that feature common pests such as wasps, this facility teaches employees to stay on their toes while on the job.
- The “flow lab”- This facility houses rows upon rows of natural gas pipes that are equipped with every conceivable piece of equipment that Atmos employees may find when they are servicing real-world locations so that they can practice with all types of equipment, not just the latest models.
While the facility is typically used to train and re-train thousands of Atmos employees, emergency responders, community officials and even school children come through Gas City to learn about natural gas. In fact, nearly 600 first-response emergency personnel have used the Gas City facility to train for real world disaster situations. These emergency services personnel can benefit not only from being able to train for disasters in a safe and controlled environment, they also get the chance to train alongside Atmos Energy personnel who often coordinate with the fire department on the scene of an emergency.
Commemorating the Facsimile
Atmos Energy’s Gas City is a truly unique endeavor that provides superior training and knowledge to not only employees, but to all who visit the Charles K. Vaughan Center in Plano, TX. By promoting the education of how to safely handle natural gas and the benefits of this energy source to over 90,000 visitors (and growing), this center has definitely earned its spotlight in the news.
To commemorate their article in the Abilene Reporter-News’ Sunday edition, Fred Beversdorf, the manager of the center’s technical training and delivery, commissioned a plaque of the three-page feature article. Now, visitors and employees alike can enjoy the story of Darrell Wheat (an employee who hails from Abilene) and the Gas City simulation town at the Charles K. Vaughan Center.
This elegant wooden plaque is perfectly at home in the offices of the center, and serves as an inspirational reminder of the importance of the Gas City facility for employees. Not only that, but it gets across the human story of the employees of Atmos Energy so that customers and other visitors can come to appreciate what it is that the workers at this wonderful company do for them and how hard they work to be the best that they can be.
Better yet, this reminder will last for decades, as the plaque protects the article contained within from the damage caused by exposure to moisture, air, and accidents.
We here at In The News are proud to be able to support the efforts of Atmos Energy with our product, and hope that they continue to grow and bring top-class service to the communities they come into contact with.