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MichCon Deems Gas Pilot Program a Success

MichCon Deems Gas Pilot Program a Success

MichCon officials announced a successful beginning to its pilot program yesterday, with 70,000 of their 75,000 eligible customers choosing a newly introduced competing supplier in the first year of a three-year program. Stephen E. Ewing, the president of the Michigan gas utility, said the results prove customer choice programs can work for the entire state.

The pilot program was approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in April 1998 and allows 75,000 customers to sign up each year until 2001, amounting to a total of 225,000 eligible residential and small commercial customers. Seven suppliers, including Columbia Energy, Consumers, and Energy America (A Sempra Energy affiliate), will take part in this program.

The way the program is designed, there are enrollment periods in each of the three years; the first ended on May 15. The next sign-up period for MichCon customers to choose their gas supplier is November 1.

MichCon's program is one of three in Michigan and the results are viewed as an important step in building the state's future energy marketplace. Consumers Energy and Semco Gas also have ongoing three-year pilot programs. Like MichCon, Consumers Energy said results from its program have exceeded expectations. In the first year of the Consumer pilot, 100,000 customers switched away from the gas utility. It is currently in the second sign-up period as well.

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