Are other Gas Suppliers Available?
There are alternatives to ‘conventional’ gas and electric suppliers in some states. Those who purchase propane, oil, coal, or wood to heat can simply call around to find someone to deliver fuel for their furnace for the best price and delivery schedule, but finding and using alternate suppliers for natural gas and electricity can be a little trickier, and may not be possible at all in some states. You can check the availability of alternate suppliers for gas by clicking on the appropriate state in one of the maps below – we’ll look at alternate electrical suppliers in part 2 of this article.
You’ll notice that many states don’t offer alternate gas suppliers; in other words, they have not unbundled their gas service. In some instances, this was the unfortunate result of several large, unscrupulous companies taking advantage of opportunities provided by deregulation efforts, and bilking billions of dollars from the public. Their greed brought about the bankruptcy or near bankruptcy of several conventional utilities. The fallout from their market manipulation effectively stopped the deregulation process in many states. Those states’ programs which survived the calamity seem to have matured over time into robust solutions, however.
Availability of Alternate Gas Suppliers
Click on a state in the map above to read about the alternative gas situation in that state, and click on the enlarged state to be taken to another web page with more information or a list of alternate gas suppliers you can contact. You have some alternatives if you live in Washington, D.C. (see page 23 of the linked pdf).
Note that you should do some additional research, however. Regulations change, corporations merge (or go out of business), etc. – so the map’s links are meant just to get you started. Search for each of the respective gas suppliers to find out which provide service to residential customers (or commercial, industrial, etc). Double check with the regulatory agency for your state to find out if other companies have branched out into your area, or if existing companies have begun including residential service to their service area. Only then can you begin to evaluate the pricing of their gas versus that of your conventional supplier.
If your state has deregulated utility suppliers, you need to determine if their rates will save you any money relative to your conventional supplier. If you elect to have an alternate gas supplier, there is no need to have a new service connection or meter; the new supplier will simply use your existing pipes and meter to deliver their gas to your house. Your existing gas supplier will charge for the use of those the existing pipes and the meter; at worst you’ll get two utility bills – one from the conventional supplier for the delivery infrastructure (the meter and existing pipes), and a second for the gas you actually use. Make sure you sort out which charges relates to the actual purchase of gas versus the taxes, regulatory charges, and delivery charges on your existing bill, so you can accurately compare the alternate versus the conventional gas costs. In some areas the billing has been consolidated, and the entire process is handled by either the old or the new supplier – all the costs are consolidated ‘behind the scenes’, leaving you with a single bill.
Next: Part 2, alternate electric suppliers