Washington Gas soon will notify its northern Virginia customersof its customer choice pilot. Customers will have the option tochoose from a list of gas suppliers whose names and phone numberswill be included in an October bill insert. A series of communityeducation meetings is planned.

“The more competitive natural gas industry is providingconsumers with greater economic freedom in purchasing energy,” saidJoseph M. Schepis, Washington Gas chief operating officer.”Virginia customers’ participation in the pilot is important. It’sa preview of what’s to come, a chance to compare prices, save moneyand become more familiar with the open markets of a deregulatedenergy environment. The program should provide a clearerunderstanding of customers’ expectations and will help us to matchtheir preferences with the competitive opportunities of an openmarket.”

About 29,000 residential customers and 2,000 commercialcustomers may participate in the first year of the two-year pilotapproved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Twice asmany customers may participate in the second year. Enrollmentbegins Oct. 1, and customers may continue to sign up anytimethereafter until the target levels for residential and commercialcustomers have been reached. Customers agree to participate for oneyear. Gas supply under the pilot is scheduled to begin as early asJan. 1.

Thousands of Washington Gas customers in the Maryland area haveparticipated in a similar pilot. The success of the Marylandprogram has resulted in customer choice for all commercialcustomers and for a majority of residential customers.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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