THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 15

exempt municipal utilities. Unfortunately,
this lack of statutory exemption was
something that had to be experienced by
our members when they were trying to
react to demands from customers. Some
were even challenged by contractors,
resulting in a cease and desist order. As
a result, this issue was brought to our
Governmental Relations Committee. The
committee agreed something needed to
be done and challenged me with making
a positive pathway for success in our
customer growth. The first step was to
get support or neutrality on a statutory
change from potential foes in the capitol.
After several outreach efforts, we were
in the clear for the lobbying community
therefore it was on to the next step
educating legislators and getting their
support. I made several key contacts with
leaders in the House and Senate on this
issue and then received a green light to
proceed along with recommendations
on which legislation to place an
amendment on because stand-alone
legislation for just this issue would be an
uphill climb.
Once a plan was determined for the
amendment and the major hurdles were
out of the way, a little old-fashioned
shoe leather lobbying began with our
amendment draft in hand. The Florida
legislative session is 60 days long and
almost at the halfway mark we were
able to get our amendment sponsors
and bills in place. From this point on
until the last night of the legislative
session the bill we were a part of had
its ups and downs, including several
days at the end of the session when
the legislation was no longer on the
calendar. Thankfully through a great
coalition that kept the legislation active
we were able to pull off a victory during
the last hour of the session.
Following the annual "sine die" or end
of session getting the full support of the
Governor was another task to complete.
The legislation we were a part of could
be called "omnibus" so throughout the
session and now with the Governor
our coalition had to work together to
convince the Governor and his staff
that the legislation as a collective was

good for the state. Without getting into
the other parts of the legislation our
argument was:
House Bill 1021 simply clarifies
that municipal gas utility employees
are provided the same opportunity
as other gas utilities (investor owned
utilities and special districts) to execute
services for their consumers. The current
statutory situation can create undue
burdens on municipal gas utilities when
responding to natural gas leak calls
by their customers or those that have
been providing piping services and
appliance installations. I say this because
the current statutory exemption has
been challenged in a municipality and
was decided in that situation that the
exemption did not include municipal
utilities. With this proposed statutory
clarification, municipal gas utilities
can be assured that they can respond
quickly to customer leak calls which the
utility is responsible for and continue
to provide services. This legislation
further provides municipal gas utilities
an avenue for workforce in times of
construction growth for Florida. During
these times, municipal gas utilities have
been faced with shortages of available
plumbers across the state. The piping
of natural gas in homes and businesses
is specialty work and average plumbers
do not typically do this work because
there is endless business in potable and
non-potable water piping and repairs.
The municipal gas utilities should not
be burdened with loss of revenue
because of other trades selectively
picking what work they will do during
Florida's times of economic prosperity.
This lack of workforce is not only in
times of prosperity but also in areas of

geographic isolation across the state as
well. There are many cities in rural areas
with a limited supply of plumbers and
within these areas municipal gas utilities
have been providing services for years
with no complaints.
The safety of natural gas is of utmost
concern to the natural gas utilities in the
state of Florida and their safety practices
are strictly governed by the Florida Public
Service Commission, the Florida Fire
Marshall (Florida Fire Prevention Code),
and the Florida Building Code. If we
deliver an unsafe product, customers will
not be willing to purchase our services
and product. Further, the activities
of municipal natural gas utilities are
prescribed and approved by their local
city commissions. Therefore, if local
plumbers have concerns about the work
of utilities, local city commissions have
been receptive and will continue to be
receptive to their constituents' concerns
in Florida.
In the end, our coalition was able to
get the support of the Governor and he
signed the legislation on the eve of our
Florida Natural Gas Association annual
convention. Is there a better way to kick
off a convention? Not to me!
Just remember, this legislative victory
is not complete as we have had several
legislators with disgruntled contractors
from the law change contact us. To keep
this ability for our municipal utilities
to provide installation services, our
legislators will have to continue seeing a
value for the utilities and as an association
we will need to continue a proactive role
in governmental relations because as
quickly as we can change laws for the
betterment of the industry, everything
can be reversed.

This past year, the Florida Natural Gas
Association charted a path to meet
its municipal utility needs where the
contractor workforce is limited. There
is no reason for the municipal gas
utilities to sacrifice their growth.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of THE SOURCE - Winter 2017

A Vision from Our Industry: Listen, Define, Allocate, Execute
First Person
APGA Events
Q&A: Chairman Chatterjee
Furnace Rule Update
Delivering the Needs of Customers Through Legislative Action
Reaching Your Future Customers
Whistling In The Dark: Shortcomings of Natural Gas Indices Persist
Growth in Renewable Natural Gas
Legislative Outlook
The Pipeline
Marketing Matters
At Last
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - intro
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - ebelly1
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - ebelly2
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - A Vision from Our Industry: Listen, Define, Allocate, Execute
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - cover2
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 3
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 4
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 5
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 6
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 7
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - First Person
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 9
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - APGA Events
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Q&A: Chairman Chatterjee
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Furnace Rule Update
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 13
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Delivering the Needs of Customers Through Legislative Action
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 15
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Reaching Your Future Customers
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 17
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Whistling In The Dark: Shortcomings of Natural Gas Indices Persist
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 19
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 20
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Growth in Renewable Natural Gas
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 22
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Legislative Outlook
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 24
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - The Pipeline
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Marketing Matters
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 27
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - At Last
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 29
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 30
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - cover3
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - cover4
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert1
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert2
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert3
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert4
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert5
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert6