The Georgia Public Service Commission has refused to approvethree industrial supply deals signed by Atlanta Gas Light becausethe LDC filed to become a part of Georgia’s competitive gas market.

The 5-0 PSC decision (Docket 8390-U) handed down Feb. 17 saidAGL’s November filing triggered Georgia’s competitive gas planunder the state’s April 1997 law, the “Natural Gas Competition andDeregulation Act.” It was AGL’s option to become part of thatplan-designed to offer end users the option to choose gassuppliers-and they elected to do so, the PSC said.

Consequently, AGL may no longer sign deals offering specialrates-negotiated or otherwise-for interruptible service because todo so would give the LDC “a competitive advantage.”

AGL offered negotiated rates to a Engelhard Corp. chemical plantin Savannah (Docket 8397-U), and a William Bonnell Co. metal plantin Newnan (Docket 8398-U), and a “special contract” to a Union CampCo. chemical plant in Valdosta (Docket 8372-U). All were denied bythe PSC.

However a negotiated discounted rate was approved by the PSC fora Burgess Pigment Co. chalk plant in Sandersville because that dealwas negotiated and filed before AGL joined the competitive marketin November.

Since 1994 AGL has had PSC permission to offer lower gas ratesto large industrial customers as an incentive to keep them on itssystem. Industrials had begun to sign for gas supplies directlyfrom interstate pipelines or to use alternate fuels. But beginningin November of this year, AGL customers will have the option topurchase gas directly from other suppliers at market prices.

“The PSC staff felt that no marketer in their right mind wouldcome to Georgia if all of the large industrial market was alreadyspoken for,” a PSC spokesman said. Under terms of the lawestablishing a competitive market in Georgia, gas marketers canenter the state, but must first sign residential customers beforechasing the interruptible market.

The PSC will begin to certify marketers in October of this year.After that process begins, interruptible customers will begin arelatively short period in which they can opt out of existingsupply contracts with AGL to take their chances in the competitivemarket.

The decision does not directly impact the 56 existinginterruptible contracts AGL has with industrials-those will beallowed to run the course of their terms of up to five-years. Endusers, however, may opt out during the marketer certificationperiod.

AGL said it may ask for PSC reconsideration of the case.

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