First Deliveries Arrive In Georgia Unbundling
Only five of a possible 19 marketers are making deliveries to
about 16,000 out of 1.4 million customers of Atlanta Gas Light this
month, but it's a start in the LDC's state-approved plan to work
its way out of the regulated merchant business.
Of the five - Scana Energy Marketing, Infinite Energy, e prime
Inc., Peachtree Natural Gas, and Georgia Natural Gas Services (the
AGL affiliate) - Scana was claiming the lion's share of customers.
Marketers said they were surprised at how large the number of
switching customers was, given the short time for marketing between
the time the marketers were certified and the Oct. 26 cut-off for
Nov. 1 deliveries. Marketers now are switching their focus to Nov.
24, the date that marks the end of the second round of signings for
deliveries to start Dec. 1.
The sign-up total was "pretty good," said Steve Kennedy, a
representative from United Gas Management, a company that began to
market to customers after the first round ended. "But nobody will
be able to make any judgments because the processes are so new."
According to Scana Energy Marketing representative Randy
Michaels, Scana took over 90% of the new signings. Like Scana,
Natural Gas Services was happy with their performance. "Both the
total number of switching customers and the number of customers who
joined our company vastly exceeded our expectations," said
representative Clifford Payne.
Yet some other companies were not so upbeat. One source within e
prime Inc. said the company was a "little disappointed. Many of
our orders were sent back to us by AGL because of a glitch in the
information transfer, like variations in names and the presence of
a middle initial."
The information glitch was a factor in many marketers' decisions
to not enter in the first month. According to Georgia Public
Services Commission spokesman Shawn Davis, "Most just anticipated
glitches in the system and scheduled their promotional efforts with
that in mind." Yet, others had a different take on the glitch. "Its
like a kid trying to cram for an exam going against a kid who's
been studying all along," said Scana Representative Randy Michaels,
"They just did not put in the research time and money that we did."
The second round of signings should allow for a clearer picture
as more marketers participate and customers become educated. One
big block of consumers, held by the aggregator Grass Roots Energy
should be signed for new service by Jan. 1. Grass Roots has 34,000
clients who are letting the company negotiate their deal for them.
According to Grass Roots President Dave Rich, the company wanted to
sign with a marketer in the first round, but many marketers were
unprepared. Rich feels that as the consumers and marketers gain
experience, the process will flow more smoothly.
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