Thursday, June 30, 2016

PUC Approves Utility Plans To Encourage Natural Gas Competition

The Public Utility Commission Thursday approved plans submitted by five natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs) enabling them to more easily share customer account numbers with natural gas suppliers (NGSs) in public venues, like shopping malls and community events, when account numbers are not available from interested customers or from the Eligible Customer List (ECL).  
Customer account numbers are needed in order for a customer to be switched to a competitive NGS.
“As we directed three years ago in the electric market, the Commission believes that an account number access mechanism would be a useful tool to enable gas customers and NGSs to more easily interact and participate in the competitive market while maintaining necessary customer protections,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown.  “We are pleased that most of the state’s major NGDCs are now positioned to move forward with the mechanisms and have them in place by 2017.”
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the development and implementation of natural gas account number mechanisms for five NGDCs: Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc.; PECO Energy Company; National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation; Peoples Natural Gas Company LLC, including Peoples Natural Gas Company LLC – Equitable Division, and Peoples TWP; and UGI Utilities Inc. – Gas Division, as well as UGI Penn Natural Gas, Inc. and UGI Central Penn Gas, Inc.  
On July 8, 2015, the Commission adopted a Final Order directing PUC-jurisdictional NGDCs to submit for the Commission’s review and approval compliance plans for the development of a username and pass-code protected secure website portal that will, upon customer request and consent, provide NGSs with access to residential and small business account numbers that are not available on the NGDCs ECLs.
NGSs will only have access to these websites after obtaining appropriate customer identification, as well as consent from the customer in the form of a signed Letter of Authorization.  
The lookup mechanism will only be used for customer-initiated enrollment transactions in public locations and not for enrollments that occur during door-to-door or telephone transactions.
For more information on switching natural gas suppliers and competition, visit the PUC’s PA Gas Switch website and on the PUC’s Retail Markets Investigation on Natural Gas webpage.

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