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Columbia, Offer Online Supplier Switching

March 22, 1999
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Columbia, Offer Online Supplier Switching and Columbia Gas of Ohio have teamed up to enable Columbia Gas customers to switch suppliers online from the web site as part of the utility's customer choice program. It marks's entrance into active deregulation enrollment services, the company said.

Any customer being served by Columbia can take advantage of the service. Once on the site, they can get information about different offers, research the 19 marketers currently selling gas in Columbia's service territory, and now they can switch suppliers. Marketers only pay a fee when they acquire a customer. The rest of the service is funded by advertising, Tammy Cardoso, an spokesperson, said.

"This is our first time providing this service," said Cardoso. "But it won't be the last. We intend to offer it to the other LDCs in Ohio, then branch out into other deregulating markets such as Georgia, New Jersey, and New York. We also want to provide an enrollment service for deregulating electric markets. Right now, we are looking at Pennsylvania."

Columbia Gas formed in 1998 and is the Internet resources' sole investor. Yet Cardoso said location, not ownership, was the main reason for the partnership. "A bigger factor than Columbia being our chief investor is that we are located in Columbia Gas' area, and we chose to start close to home."

Online switching is not new to Columbia. In January, it successfully petitioned the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), to allow all 19 marketers to enroll customers online. Columbia, the largest gas utility in the state, has a total of 1.3 million gas customers.

John Norris

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