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PHILADELPHIA GAS WORKS CELEBRATES 185TH SERVICE ANNIVERSARY

For nearly two centuries PGW has met the city’s evolving energy needs by providing safe, affordable and reliable energy, 24/7

 

PHILADELPHIA (February 10, 2021) – Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) is celebrating 185 years of service to the City of Philadelphia.  PGW was established in February 1836, marked by the lighting of 46 natural gas lights along Philadelphia’s Second Street on February 10. PGW has kept homes warm, essential services running and businesses operational through World Wars, the Great Depression, construction of City Hall, the 2008 financial crisis, the Eagles Super Bowl win, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 1830s, Philadelphia desired to catch up with other cities in providing gas lighting for streets, businesses, and homes. Samuel Vaughn Merrick, one of the founders of the Franklin Institute and the first president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was elected to the Common Council to push towards building a gas works.

Merrick, both an engineer and entrepreneur, designed PGW’s first coal-fired plant, located on the Schuylkill River between Market and Filbert Streets. The plant, once opened on February 8, 1836, used Pennsylvania coal to produce gas in its early years of operation. PGW installed cast iron pipes about two feet below the city’s surface to deliver gas to outdoor lamps lining Philadelphia streets, creating a distinct look that defined the appearance of all nineteenth-century cities. Soon after Philadelphia businesses and public spaces installed gas to replace oil for illumination.

Today, PGW – the largest municipally owned natural gas utility in the U.S. – continues to be an essential part of Philadelphia, contributing to the City’s economic growth, participating in community service, and enhancing quality of life for its customers for nearly two centuries. PGW manages and maintains a system of over 6,000 miles of natural gas mains and service pipes that deliver 78 billion cubic feet of safe, reliable natural gas to 500,000 customers each year.

The success of PGW did not happen overnight. Here are a few milestones that helped guide and shape the PGW that exists in 2021.

  • 1836 -Forty-six natural gas lights along Philadelphia’s Second Street are lit for the first time by employees of the newly formed Gas Works.
  • 1856 - PGW completed the construction of a new natural gas holder at the company’s Point Breeze Plant in South Philadelphia, which at the time was the largest in the nation.
  • 1926 - PGW helped Philadelphia become one of the first U.S. cities to replace coal-fired hot water heaters with heaters powered by natural gas.
  • 1932 - Girl Scouts of the USA baked and sold their very first cookies in the windows of the Philadelphia Gas and Electric Company’s Arch Street location, which later became part of PGW.
  • 1945 - PGW developed the single-point ignition range, a first for the industry, to give thousands of customers the ability to conveniently light their burners.
  • 1967 - PGW continued its stellar record of safety, setting records for work hours completed without a lost time accident.
  • 1971- Cryogenics, the science of super-low temperatures, became firmly established at PGW as construction began for two 12-story-high Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage tanks at the Richmond Production Plant along the Delaware River.
  • 1977 - Unprecedented cold weather brought an energy crisis to PGW and Philadelphia as the ground froze to a record depth of 48 inches.
  • 1983 - PGW won the American Gas Association’s Merit Award for helping to start the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF), which assists low income customers in paying their utility bills. 1983 also marked the “Great Blizzard of 1983” that dumped 22 inches of snow on the city over a two-day period. PGW worked long hours to ensure uninterrupted natural gas service.
  • 2009 - PGW launched Pennsylvania’s largest natural gas energy conservation program, EnergySense, to help 100,000 customers become more energy efficient.
  • 2019 - PGW was named an inaugural Employer of Choice by the City of Philadelphia and recognized for diverse hiring practices, strong workforce training education, internships and other work opportunities for youth, and promoted career advancement for employees.
  • 2020 - PGW joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Methane Challenge Program and committed to lowering methane emissions by replacing at least two percent of cast iron and vintage steel mains with newer, modern pipes, along with new service lines, every year by 2022.
  • 2020 - PGW’s installation of a Micro-CHP in Northeast Philadelphia marked its 23rd combined heat and power (CHP) unit in the city. CHP is energy-efficient technology that generates electricity and captures the heat to provide useful thermal energy, and helps the system’s users reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

 

To build on this history and to strive for continued growth, PGW implements strategic decisions to improve the customer experience, build a clean energy future, maintain strong safety records, and connect with local, diverse businesses and suppliers. These guiding principles enable PGW to continually enhance the quality of life for all by delivering safe, reliable, and affordable energy in an environmentally responsible way.

“Operating a natural gas utility in a historic city like Philadelphia is a tremendously meaningful responsibility. Every day, our dedicated team takes pride in knowing they are providing energy solutions to residents and businesses alike,” said Craig E. White, President and CEO of PGW. “As an essential city asset, our future business endeavors include creating solutions to meet the changing needs of our customers and the surrounding environment. On behalf of all of our employees, both current and former, PGW is excited to share this noteworthy milestone with our customers, key stakeholders and all Philadelphia residents as we, like the great city we serve, have a rich, dynamic history that is leading us into a promising, productive future.”

For more information about PGW and its history please visit pgworks.com/thankyoufor185.  PGW is dedicated to helping customers they’ve served for the last 185 years.



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Natural Gas smells bad on purpose

That “rotten egg” smell is the smell of natural gas. If you think you smell gas leave the area immediately, and then call PGW at 215-235-1212 from a safe location.

Learn more Leaks, Odors, Safety Tips

Also if you smell gas:

  • Do not use electrical devices including cell phones which may cause a spark and ignite the gas.
  • Do not use an open flame, matches or lighters.
  • Do not try to locate the source of the gas leak.
  • Do not try to shut off any natural gas valves or gas appliances.
  • Do not start vehicles.
  • Do not re-enter the building or return to the area until a PGW employee or a qualified utility representative says it is safe to do so.
  • Do not put out the flames if natural gas ignites.