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PGW'S AWARD-WINNING 'LANGUAGE LINE' RECORDS DRAMATIC INCREASE IN USE

PGW'S AWARD-WINNING 'LANGUAGE LINE' RECORDS DRAMATIC INCREASE IN USE
 PHILADELPHIA, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Philadelphia Gas Works' comprehensive Ethnic Communications Program, created to provide its non- English speaking customers with better service, is bringing positive results.
 The most significant results of the Ethnic Communications Program can be seen in increased usage of Language Line, a telephone-based translation service which is made available to PGW customers without charge. Translation requests have increased by more than 78 percent for the one-year period ending May 1992, compared to a similar time period ending May 1991.
 "This activity is consistent with that part of our mission statement which stresses reliable service to all of our customers," said Terri M. Maloney, PGW's vice president-customer activities. "This comprehensive approach helps assimilate newcomers into this country and our service territory by reducing barriers to communication and understanding."
 Recognizing a need to better serve its growing number of non-English speaking customers in Philadelphia, PGW implemented Language Line in June 1990. Through the use of this service, PGW -- the first utility in Pennsylvania and one of the few in the country to offer it to its customers -- has 24-hour access to translators who fluently speak more than 140 different languages and dialects. Previously the service had been used exclusively by police, emergency and health-care providers.
 Language Line was the catalyst for expanding PGW's Ethnic Communications Program, an expansion tailored primarily for the Hispanic and Asian communities. According to the latest Census figures, these groups are the fastest-growing ethnic groups in Philadelphia; and, in many cases, they are the most recent immigrants.
 Safety brochures and printed materials were prepared in seven different languages (Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian). Advertisements promoting the translation service were placed in community newspapers and in those ethnic newspapers serving the Hispanic and Asian communities.
 An extensive community outreach program was also launched by PGW to spread the message on Language Line and to distribute these materials containing important safety and service information. More than 70 organizations and businesses in both the Asian and Spanish community were enlisted to form a major distribution network for this outreach program.
 Based on the continued success of this program, PGW then targeted the growing Russian community for its outreach efforts, providing them with bilingual printed materials and advertising on radio and in Jewish newspapers. Religious, business and community leaders in the three targeted communities have praised PGW's efforts to open up communications with these populations by offering a host of bilingual services and literature.
 To date, a total of 28 different languages and dialects have been recorded in calls made by PGW customers and serviced through Language Line (a listing of these languages is attached).
 The benefits derived by improving communications with PGW's diverse customer base far outweigh the modest costs of this extremely valuable service. For fiscal year 1991, PGW paid AT&T, which owns Language Line, approximately $2,500 for all calls made. For fiscal year '92, which ends Aug. 31, the company expects to pay slightly more than $5,000 because of the increased customer usage.
 PGW has received two awards for its Ethnic Communications Program -- the 1991 Better Business Award for "Best Service Introduction" for Language Line, and the American Gas Association's 1991 Communication Achievement Award for "Comprehensive Public Relations."
 Information on Philadelphia Gas Works
 The Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) is a non-profit natural gas utility owned by the city of Philadelphia, supplying gas service within the city limits to more than 524,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers.
 Philadelphia's gas service began on February 1836, when PGW turned on 46 gas lights on Second Street between Vine and South. Originally, PGW was managed by 12 trustees chosen by the city government's Common and Select Councils. In 1841, the city bought out the original stockholders and in 1887 took over the direct management of PGW. Ten years later, the United Gas Improvement (UGI) Co., now UGI Corporation, began operating PGW under a management contract with the city, which continued for 75 years.
 PGW is today managed by the Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation (PFMC), created by the city government in 1972. The seven members of PFMC are mayoral appointments.
 The Philadelphia Gas Commission serves as the regulatory authority for PGW. The five commission members include the city controller, two appointed by the mayor, and two by city council. Among its responsibilities are approving gas rates, other gas service tariff issues and PGW's operating budget. The commission also makes recommendations to city council regarding the capital budget, natural gas contracts, financing and real estate transactions.
 Natural Gas -- A clean, non-toxic, colorless, lighter-than-air mixture of combustible hydrocarbons, mostly methane, recovered from underground via oil and gas wells. Natural gas is used as a fuel for cooking, space heating, water heating, clothes drying, cooling and thousands of industrial and commercial uses. A chemical odor is added for easy detection.
 Facilities -- Administration and operations building, 800 W. Montgomery Avenue. Service buildings and neighborhood offices are located throughout the city. Storage plants where natural gas is supplemented as necessary with Liquefied natural gas are Passyunk Plant, 31st Street and Passyunk Avenue, and Richmond Plant, 3100 E. Venago Street.
 LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) -- LNG is natural gas converted into liquid by refrigeration to -258 degrees F. LNG requires 620 times less storage space than natural gas in gaseous form. PGW's Richmond LNG plant can regasify up to 450 million cubic feet per day; a satellite storage facility at Passyunk Plant can regasify up to 90 million cubic feet per day.
 Sales -- PGW receives gas from two transcontinental gas pipeline companies; Texas Eastern Transmission Company and Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation; distributes it through more than 6,000 miles of underground mains and service pipes, and 527,544 active gas meters. Total sales: 71.9 billion cubic feet; total operating revenues: $497.5 million, both for the 12 months


ending June 30, 1992.
 Service -- PGW repairs gas appliances, and charges for service, labor and replacement parts. PGW offers a plan which covers specified service, labor and replacement parts for house heaters and water heaters.
 Customers -- 500,093 residential; 23,498 commercial; 1,392 industrial; 1 municipal; total 524,984.
 Gas Appliances -- Approximately 1.95 million in Philadelphia, including 660,000 ranges, 536,000 automatic water heaters, 428,800 heating units, 171,000 clothes dryers.
 Employees -- About 2,426 as of June 30, 1992. All carry identification cards. Most are in uniform. Average length of service, 12.4 years.
 Executive Vice President: Alfred P. Degen
 For further information:
 Public relations -- 215-684-6624
 After 4:30 p.m., weekends, holidays -- 215-235-2050
 Gas odors, emergencies -- 215-235-1212
 Appliance service -- 215-235-1000
 Language and dialects serviced through PGW's Language Line (ranked by number of calls - excluding English):
 -- Spanish
 -- Korean
 -- Vietnamese
 -- Cambodian
 -- Chinese
 -- Mandarin
 -- Cantonese
 -- Russian
 -- French
 -- Italian
 -- Laotian
 -- Polish
 -- Hungarian
 -- Greek
 -- Filipino
 -- Ethiopian
 -- Portuguese
 -- Romanian
 -- Taiwanese
 -- Amharic (Africa)
 -- Creole
 -- Japanese
 -- Yiddish
 -- Tagalog (Pacific Islands)
 -- Arabic
 -- Hindi
 -- Thai
 -- Farsi (Middle East)
 Total as of May 1992 -- 28 languages.
 /delval/
 -0- 7/21/92
 /CONTACT: Anthony DiTommaso, 215-684-6022, or Audrey Dean, 215-684-6622, both of PGW/ CO: Philadelphia Gas Works ST: Pennsylvania IN: UTI SU:


MJ-JS -- PH018 -- 1289 07/21/92 11:37 EDT
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Date:Jul 21, 1992
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