Georgia PSC Softens Ultimatum to Customers
The Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) unanimously decided
last week to allow customers to switch from Atlanta Gas Light (AGL)
after the previously-determined Aug. 11 deadline, the date when the
Commission determines market share among the competing suppliers.
Commissioner Robert Baker said the vote will help dispel the rumor
of Aug. 11 being a drop-dead date.
"On Aug. 11, the GPSC will take a snapshot of the market, then
begin the process that will allocate customers according to market
share. We feel it is important for people to still be able to
switch from AGL after Aug. 11."
Baker said the only serious opposition to the vote came from
Scana. "Scana felt all customer choice should terminate after the
Aug. 11 deadline, but that is not what the law says," Baker said.
Scana accrued the largest number of customers since the state
deregulated in November with over 300,000 of the 700,000 total
switches. After obtaining 40% of the market share, Scana halted its
marketing efforts. Other marketers are still active, and this
decision gives them more time to make up ground. Baker said Georgia
Natural Gas is marketing to customers who haven't left AGL yet by
promoting itself as a sister company of the gas utility.
Baker also conceded that problems may arise from this decision.
Customers who switch after the deadline run the risk of still
ending up on a random assignment list. "There will probably be some
snafus," Baker said. "If a customer switches after the deadline and
the paperwork isn't processed by the time the random assignment
lists are made up, some confusion might result. The company chosen
by the customer will override anything else. Hopefully this will
only happen to a manageable amount of people."
Last month, the GPSC determined there was enough market
competition to begin phasing AGL out of the merchant function. The
Commission notified all customers who hadn't already switched from
AGL that they had 100 days to do so. After the 100-day period,
which ends Aug. 11, the GPSC will assign any customers who haven't
switched from the utility to a marketer on a market share basis.
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