The last of three pilot deregulation programs in Michigan is being launched this month with Michigan Consolidated Gas allowing 75,000 of its customers to sign up to test offers from other gas marketers; and Consumers Energy can’t wait. Consumers announced an aggressive promotional campaign last week with the intent to grab as much of its neighboring LDC’s market as possible. It’s campaign was scheduled to start Jan. 2 with a sponsored Harlem Globetrotters game.

“One advantage we have in the MichCon market is that we already supply electricity to people in that area. People know us and we have a good reputation with them. And frankly, we’re going after as many people as we can get,” said Jeff Holyfield, a Consumers spokesman.

Along with the basketball game, Consumers has been running radio and newspaper promotions. Consumers is offering a guaranteed price of $2.84 per Mcf to MichCon customers. This is the same deal it is selling in neighboring Semco’s pilot program and its own. (See Daily GPI, Dec. 22) The promotion claims a customer can save $50 over three years. Skeptics warn this savings deal is based on an “assumed load factor” and that it might not represent certain people’s needs.

MichCon’s program is a voluntary program open to all of its 1.2 million residential customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Up to 75,000 customers per year can switch to a new supplier over a three-year period beginning on Jan.1 for a total of 225,000 customers. New suppliers will start serving customers April. 1. Other marketers approved for participation in the marketing program include: Columbia Energy, EMC/Illinova Energy Partners, Energy-America-Michigan, WPS Energy Services, Cherryland Electric Co-op, and Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op.

©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved.The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in wholeor in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press,Inc.