To ensure that people don’t get left in the cold this winter, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a warning to Georgians who have had their natural gas shut off for non-payment or for those who have been notified of termination, to settle past due bills with their natural gas marketer now in order to restore service before winter.
“We’re concerned that if people don’t act now, they will be caught with no heat when cold weather sets in,” said Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, PSC chairman. “This is a very serious situation. Today there are 45,000 Georgians whose gas service is still shut off for non-payment and there are more than 100,000 who are on the list to have their service terminated. These folks are clearly at risk of not having heat when winter hits.”
McDonald said there are two factors contributing to the impending crisis: the high number of shut off cases involved; and the length of time it takes to reconnect customers’ natural gas service because of the required physical inspection of the home.
Because of these concerns, the PSC, Georgia’s eight certified natural gas marketers and Atlanta Gas Light Co., owner of the natural gas pipeline infrastructure and gas meters, jointly issued the warning for customers to take action now.
The number of shutoffs in the state is staggering, with more than 78,000 gas customers in the state shut off for non-payment, and 58% of those customers remaining unconnected. Over the next three months the commission said there are 100,000 more households scheduled to have their gas service shut off for non-payment.
Since April 1, the number of shut off cases in Georgia is 120% higher than the monthly average of the past five years. The increase in shut off cases potentially will add to the historical 30% spike in reconnection requests at the fall season’s first cold snap.
The commission blames two primary factors for the high number of shut off cases in Georgia this year. First, natural gas prices were higher during the winter of 2000-2001 because supplies were tight, and secondly, last winter was one of the coldest winters on record, which increased customers’ usage of the higher-priced natural gas.
Georgians seeking more information on their options can contact the commission by calling (404) 656-4501 or 1-800-282-5813, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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