APGA member systems take great pride in their ability to deliver natural gas safely and efficiently to over 5 million customers in 38 states. APGA is pleased to announce the System Operational Achievement Recognition (SOAR) program to honor those public natural gas systems that have achieved excellence in the operation of their natural gas utility. 

Applications will be reviewed by a team of experts from the APGA Operations & Safety Committee and will be awarded a rating based on a total cumulative score of points achieved from the program criteria in each of the four areas. Utilities can receive one of three SOAR recognition levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. SOAR continues for three years, at which point the utility may apply again to maintain recognition. A utility may also resubmit at any point for consideration to be recognized at a higher level of SOAR. Below you can find details about SOAR enrollment and the scoring process.

Attaining the APGA SOAR shows board members, community leaders, service providers and customers the utility's commitment to operational excellence.

SOAR Enrollment

The 2023 enrollment period is now open and will close on March 3, 2023.


Curious about what enrollment entails? The APGA SOAR Task Group will hold a webinar to help answer your questions on the application survey on February 8.  

Register for Webinar

Within 24 hours of completing the online enrollment form, you will be emailed the four criteria area URLs to complete the four criteria area surveys for SOAR recognition.  There is a $250 non-refundable fee to apply for SOAR. This fee is used for SOAR Program related activities and materials. It also grants your system access to SOAR Virtual Roundtables, which are exclusive to SOAR participants. 

All applications must submit information and data that is current and representative of the natural gas distribution system over the past three years. All applications will be treated as confidential. Some of the SOAR criteria concern the existence of certain written policies and procedures. Rather than require submission of all these written policies and procedures, the SOAR review process will request that you submit a randomly selected sample of a few documents for review by the review team.

Please contact Simon Cook at scook@apga.org if you have any questions.


System Operational Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Program

SOAR honors natural gas distribution utilities that demonstrate commitment to excellence in four areas:
  • System integrity
  • System improvement
  • Employee safety
  • Workforce development

View Winners

SOAR Criteria Areas & Scoring Rubric

Download the New Scoring Rubric

The APGA SOAR Task Group revised the enrollment application and scoring rubric for the SOAR program for 2023. This update increases expectations of SOAR participants, encourages further incorporation of new technologies and best practices, and incorporates principles of recent industry standards. The four primary areas remain:
  1. The System Integrity topic reviews a system’s dedication to operating a safe system through their capital improvement projects, the integrity management of their assets, and their operations & maintenance activities
  2. The System Improvement topic reviews a system’s dedication to continuous improvement. This is evaluated through the system’s use of innovative tools and technologies, participation in industry voluntary initiatives, and implementation of industry best practices.'
  3. The Employee Safety topic reviews a system’s dedication to ensuring the safety of your employees. This includes training, procedures and policies, programs, tools and equipment.
  4. The Workforce Development topic reviews a system’s efforts related to the recruitment, retention, growth, and satisfaction of their employees.

Guidance for completing your SOAR enrollment application:

When the SOAR survey asks if the utility has written policies and/or procedures on a specific subject (e.g., driver/vehicle safety) answer “yes” if there is a written document on that subject that applies to the workers of the gas utility. It doesn’t matter if the written policies or procedures apply to more than just the gas utility. It is acceptable if the procedures cover other operations of the utility such as electric, water, sewer, etc., as long as it also applies to the gas utility and addresses the subject. It is also acceptable if the written policy or procedure applies to a larger entity such as the town, city, county, municipality, etc,. that operates the gas utility. It can also be part of a larger document, such as driving safety covered as one of many topics in a safety manual. If it is in writing, addresses the subject and applies to the gas utility then it satisfies the SOAR criteria.

If, however, the larger entity or another utility operated in conjunction with the gas utility has a written policy but that policy does not apply to the gas utility, this does not satisfy the SOAR criteria. For example, if the city had a driver safety policy but that policy was not applied to the gas utility drivers then it would not satisfy the SOAR criteria.


SOAR Winners

SOAR applicants are awarded a rating based on a total cumulative score of points achieved from the program criteria in system integrity, system improvement, employee safety, and workforce development areas. 


  • Borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (2017-2022) 
  • Greenville Utilities Commission, North Carolina (2015-2023)
  • Greer Commission of Public Works, South Carolina (2019-2021) 
  • Jackson Energy Authority, Tennessee (2019-2024)
  • Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, Florida (2016-2022) 
  • Knoxville Utilities Board, Tennessee (2018-2023)
  • City of Lawrenceville, Georgia (2016-2022)
  • City of Lexington, North Carolina (2017-2022)
  • Paris Henry County Public Utility District, Tennessee (2017-2022)
  • Pensacola Energy, Florida (2020-2022)
  • Powell Clinch Utility District, Tennessee (2014-2022)
  • Rocky Mount Public Utilities, North Carolina (2015-2023) 
  • City of Tallahassee Gas Department, Florida (2014-2022)
  • Wilson Energy, North Carolina (2020-2022)


  • Clearwater Gas, Florida (2021-2024)
  • City of Ellensburg, Washington (2020-2023)
  • Holyoke Gas & Electric, Massachusetts (2020-2022)
  • City of Las Cruces, New Mexico (2019-2023)
  • City of Mesa Energy Resources Department, Arizona (2017-2024)
  • Midwest Energy Inc., Kansas (2018-2023)
  • Norwich Public Utilities, Connecticut (2014-2022)
  • Owatonna Public Utilities, Minnesota (2016-2021)
  • Riviera Utilities, Alabama (2020-2024)
  • City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri (2018-2024)
  • Westfield Gas and Electric, Massachusetts (2014-2021)
  • Watertown Municipal Utilities, South Dakota (2020-2024)


  • Austin Utilities, Minnesota (2021-2023)
  • Chester County Natural Gas Authority, South Carolina (2018-2023)
  • Corinth Gas & Water, Mississippi (2015-2023)
  • CPS Energy, Texas (2018-2024)
  • Decatur Utilities, Alabama (2022-2024)
  • Easton Utilities, Maryland (2019-2022)
  • Elk River Utility District, Tennessee (2017-2022)
  • Fort Pierce Public Utilities, Florida (2021-2023)
  • Fountain Inn Natural Gas, South Carolina (2022-2024)
  • Gibson County Utility District, Tennessee (2018-2022)
  • Greenwood Commissioners of Public Works, South Carolina (2020-2024)
  • Long Beach Energy Resources, California (2016-2022) 
  • Memphis Gas, Light & Water, Tennessee (2020-2022)
  • Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District, Tennessee (2019-2023)
  • Richmond Department of Utilities, Virginia (2021-2024)
  • Scottsboro Water, Sewer & Gas, Alabama (2019-2024)
  • Smyrna Natural Gas, Tennessee (2018-2024)
  • Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department, Massachusetts (2020-2022)

You can view a list of winners by year here. If you have any questions about SOAR, please contact Erin Kurilla at ekurilla@apga.org


DISCLAIMER:  The SOAR award is recognition by a gas system’s peer companies of its demonstrated commitment to excellence in the areas of system integrity, system improvements, employee safety, and workforce development.  The SOAR award is neither a certification nor an undertaking by APGA regarding a given gas system’s ability to operate safely.  APGA does not warrant that a gas utility that participates in the SOAR program or receives a SOAR award is immune from accidents related to its gas system, and APGA does not accept any liability related to such accidents, should they occur.  APGA does believe that earning a SOAR award is an indication that the affected gas system is striving to operate safely and efficiently.