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Georgia Marketers Prepare for Home Stretch

Georgia Marketers Prepare for Home Stretch

Six marketers have succeeded in obtaining most of the Georgia gas market share, with Scana and Georgia Natural Gas Services (GNGS), the Atlanta Gas Light affiliate, emerging as definitive winners, according to a study performed by Xenergy, the New York State Electric & Gas affiliate.

Market share is becoming increasingly important, the study indicated, because the amendment passed by Georgia's legislature earlier this month which requires all customers to be switched by Oct. 1, could be signed by the Gov. Roy Barnes by the end of the month. Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bobby Baker said the commission is trying to get Barnes to sign it as soon as possible. "The governor has said April 5, 12 and 16 are days blocked off for signing things. Hopefully, the amendment will fit into one of those days."

Once the bill is signed, all customers still receiving gas from AGL will have 100 days to switch before they are assigned to a marketer based on market share. William Huss, a Xenergy vice president, thinks the 100 day period will begin in early May.

"What some marketers have called the 'Hundred Day War' will begin on May 1," Huss said. " Any remaining customers who haven't signed up by Aug. 11 will be automatically assigned natural gas suppliers - and the process will be based upon market share. At stake is the entire customer base of Georgia's primary natural gas utility, AGL."

Approximately 500,000 customers have switched suppliers. At the moment, Scana is in the lead with 240,000 customers signed. The marketer's offer of $50 off the first gas bill has been successful, said Roger Schrum, a Scana spokesman, but will be halted in April. "We'll announce a new offer then," Schrum said, but could not elaborate.

Besides Scana, GNGS has had the most success in the market. "Scana and ourselves are the two largest players in the state," said Clif Payne, a GNGS vice president. "We are working hard and succeeding at closing the gap between us and Scana." Payne would not, however, release how many customers GNGS has signed. He only said "We have the lion's share of the market."

The study also names Peachtree Natural Gas, Shell Energy Services, Columbia Energy Services, and United Gas Management of Georgia as suppliers that ended up with large market shares.

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