“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut!”

“I’d like to be a doctor and learn to help people.”

“I want to be a natural gas pipeline engineer.”

Pick the one that seems out of place. Or, just ask Carolyn Bermudez, vice president of operations at Florida City Gas. She’d tell you the company is aggressively addressing the challenge of awareness when it comes to the great opportunities that exist in energy-related jobs. “Students just don’t go through school with the dream of working for a natural gas company. They may want to be a mechanical engineer, or study material dynamics, but it doesn’t occur to them that they can put those types of skills to use here in our company, and have a great career with Florida City Gas!” she said. “Our problem isn’t retention. Our average tenure is more than 10 years. It is that we have good people retiring after 20-30 years, and we need to keep that knowledge base intact to better service our customers.” Florida City Gas estimates its workforce will grow at about 10 percent this year, above national averages, and that number is on target with the company’s expansion, service and maintenance needs.

The company was founded in Miami back in 1946 by Sidney W. Langer as Dade Gas.

Dade Gas was one of the first propane operators in the state of Florida. Langer converted an underground propane distribution system to natural gas in 1959 and changed the company’s name to City Gas. In 1965, natural gas expanded into Brevard County to support the development of America’s space program. The state name “Florida” was added to the old company name, “City Gas,” in 2004 to more clearly designate the company’s geographic location among its Atlanta-based parent company’s other utilities (Atlanta Gas Light, Chattanooga Gas, Elizabethtown Gas, Elkton Gas, and Virginia Natural Gas).

Supporting STEM

Though the company has evolved in many ways, the family culture still remains. Its number-one value is safety, which is a part of all that the company does. Florida City Gas also recognizes that contributions, diversity and the commitment of individuals to work together all help the company achieve success. Florida City Gas employees give generously of their time, talents and resources to the communities they serve. The company supports local STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as one means of supporting workforce development, education, and environmental stewardship.

Florida City Gas recently held a summit of 20-plus high schools and technical schools at its office in Rockledge to introduce teachers, counselors, and other school leaders to the company, and to explore partnerships in STEM programs countywide. Bermudez said about this meeting, “Mentoring through STEM and other programs allows us to raise awareness and begin to develop a workforce needed to fill jobs.” She added, “Not all the jobs require a college degree. Some require specialized utility construction skills, for example.”

Bermudez continues to spearhead efforts in support of the local educational community to help make students aware of the diversity of opportunities at Florida City Gas. “The quality of life that these jobs can afford and the vital service they provide to the general public is an important factor to many of today’s students trying to determine a career path,” she said.

Time for an Appliance Upgrade?

There is another ongoing outreach effort at Florida City Gas. It is to make customers and other residents aware of the substantial rebates offered for upgrading or adding natural gas services to their current homes, or to homes they are planning to build. Florida City Gas offers generous mail-in rebate incentives for customers who would like to replace old natural gas appliances or would like to switch to natural gas. The company also offers incentives for developers. More than 9,000 customers took advantage of these rebates in 2015.

Miguel Bustos, manager of energy conservation, outlined many of the company’s rebates which range from replacing an old electric water heater with a natural gas tankless unit, to converting a company’s fleet of vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG).  Bustos said, “A company considering converting its fleet to CNG could be incentivized by the state of Florida at $25,000 per vehicle up to $250,000!”  He added, “But the rebates aren’t just for commercial users of natural gas. Homeowners and contractors can realize thousands of dollars in appliance rebates, which often offset a large portion of the appliance cost before the overall savings of using natural gas over electricity even begins.”

Florida City Gas’ parent company, Southern Company Gas, formerly AGL Resources, was recently renamed after being acquired by Southern Company in July 2016.  The merger of Florida City Gas’ parent with Southern Company expands the company’s energy portfolio to include carbon-free nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency. The combined company creates one of the biggest energy providers in America, with operations in 17 states, 11 electric and natural gas utilities, 32,500 total employees, 9 million utility customers, and more than a million retail customers.

Florida City Gas is eager to discuss its ongoing educational programs, or analyze the application of its rebate program to your natural gas needs. For more information, call the FCG Energy Connection Center at 866-399-9775.