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Energy America Buys 50,000 Georgia Customers

Energy America Buys 50,000 Georgia Customers

Energy America pulled off a last minute coup in last Wednesday's auction for bankrupt Georgia retail marketer Titan Energy's gas customers by outbidding Shell Energy Services with a price of $2.5 million for 50,000 gas buyers. Energy America paid $44/customer, a dollar more than Shell, plus the $7 per customer switching fee.

"We are pleased to welcome Titan customers into the Energy America family and are committed to providing them with the same low-cost natural gas and superior service that our current customers receive," said David Zeitz, president of Energy America, a joint venture between Sempra Energy and Direct Energy Marketing. Zeitz assured Titan's customers that it would be a seamless transition with no disruption of supply.

Formerly the fifth-largest marketer in Georgia, the acquisition brings Energy America's total customer base to more than 120,000 residential and small-business customers, making it the state's fourth-largest marketer.

Shell had been in advanced negotiations with Titan for the customers until Bankruptcy Court Judge W. Homer Drake determined that an auction was the most impartial way of deciding the fate of the customers. Shell also posted the second highest bid, according to Atlanta Gas Light spokesman Nick Gold. "Shell was initially offering $35 for each customer and went as high as $43. They withdrew when Energy America entered their bid of $44. So it was really a match between those two shooters. They were really going at it."

Beginning early next week, Energy America will formally notify former Titan customers of the change in their energy service providers.

Titan Energy filed for Chapter 11 over the Fourth of July weekend after its wholesale natural gas supplier, DukeSolutions, filed a lawsuit against the Roswell, GA, marketer in federal court in Houston, accusing it of breach of contract. DukeSolutions, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, contends Titan Energy owes it more than $10 million. Titan became the second marketer to seek bankruptcy protection in Georgia in less than a year.

Titan still owes AGL about $1.6 million for back distribution charges. It paid part of its $2.8 million AGL bill with a letter of credit last week but still owes the balance.

Titan Energy's case closely parallels that of Peachtree Natural Gas, which last year became the first marketer serving the deregulated Georgia natural gas market to file for bankruptcy. In that case, Peachtree sold its 170,000 customers to Shell Energy for $19.3 million.

Based in Stamford, CT with offices in Georgia, Energy America is a joint venture between Sempra and Direct Energy, Canada's largest independent natural gas marketing company. Energy America currently sells electricity and natural gas to 400,000 residential and small-business customers in New Jersey, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Rocco Canonica

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