Weatherproofing Offers to Even Out Natural Gas Bills

In this uncertain world Pittsburgh-based Weatherwise USA is offering to eliminate one weather-related stress factor - that of skyrocketing gas heating and cooling bills. The Weatherwise WeatherProof Bills program claims to be the first to offer a fixed-price gas service that eliminates weather- and gas price-related uncertainty for individual consumers.

Kansas Gas Service, a division of ONEOK, recently became the first regulated utility to join in an alliance with Weatherwise to offer the service to its customers. "The WeatherProof Bill is particularly attractive to budget-conscious consumers who value simplicity and predictability in their energy bills," said Bernie Bilski, president of Pittsburgh-based Weatherwise.

While some marketers offer special weather-related hedging products to more sophisticated wholesale customers, Weatherwise takes over the risk and cost evaluation for individual consumers. The company uses sophisticated software to compute a consumer's WeatherProof Bill based on previous natural gas consumption, contracted gas prices, average temperatures and administrative costs. Fred Beorn, a Weatherwise vice president, said Kansas Gas Service will offer the levelized, firm price billing to customers while his company "will serve as a backroom operation" for the service. "We serve as aggregators and then lay off the risk with other companies such as Enron or Aquila" through their hedging instruments.

Kansas Gas Service has received approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission for a 12-month pilot program in a limited area. If that is successful the program will be offered to all customers.

Weatherwise USA has a variety of utility company parents. It currently is owned by En-able which is a partnership of KN Energy and PacifiCorp;

ProLiance, whose parents are two Indiana utilities; DQ Energy Partners, an affiliate of Duquesne Light; and AllEnergy Marketing, an affiliate of New England Electric Systems.

Ellen Beswick

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