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SoCalGas to Expand Online Retail Energy System

SoCalGas to Expand Online Retail Energy System

Attempting to reach energy consumers on both coasts, Southern California Gas Co. said Thursday it hopes to offer its Internet marketplace to customers in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Georgia in the very near future. The expansion was announced as part of the formal launching of power trading on the company's energy market web site, www.energymarketplace.com.

"It is our hope that in other markets in the East, they will want to promote customer choice as well. We want to offer this effective vehicle to do that in those areas." Said Eric Baty, a Sempra spokesman. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra. Until this announcement, the web service was only applicable to California customers. "What we've done is work closely with the utilities where the markets for energy are most active to promote our product."

Denise King, another Sempra spokesperson, said the company also stands to grow financially through fees charged to suppliers if deals are made through this web site. The end-user is not charged at all, King said. Although energymarketplace.com provides valuable information about energy service, transactions must be carried out offline.

The web site works as a facilitator between energy consumers and suppliers. Commercial and industrial customers supply information regarding their needs on the site, then that information is taken by participating suppliers, who then customize their bids to fit what the customer wants. Residential customers can receive comparisons of both electric and gas offers, while getting updated information about the companies. Right now, the web site can be accessed by any California citizen.

Energymarketplace.com opened in November 1997. "Judging from feedback from customers and suppliers, we've had success with the gas side on this web site, and now we want to try our hand at the electric market." King said.

John Norris

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