Southern Co. said Friday that subsidiary Southern Company Gas, a retail natural gas marketing business in the deregulated Georgia market, signed a letter of intent to negotiate the sale of its Georgia assets, including contracts with about 170,000 retail customers (a 12.5% market share) to a new affiliate of Cobb Electric Membership Corp., an electric cooperative serving 185,000 customers.

“Since we launched Southern Company Gas in 2002, we have enhanced its customer service record, and the pricing options and services available to customers,” said Southern Co. CEO David Ratcliffe. “We also have made it profitable and have improved the quality of its customer base. As a result, we have received unsolicited offers from gas marketers to buy the company in recent months. It just makes sense for us to explore our options at this time.”

Ron Bertasi, CEO of Southern Company Gas, said the transition is expected to be seamless for customers.

Cobb is currently preparing to seek certification from the Georgia Public Service Commission to become a licensed marketer in the competitive Georgia retail natural gas market. The proposed sale is subject to the negotiation of a definitive agreement and receipt of regulatory approvals. Cobb CEO Dwight Brown noted that the cooperative has provided electric service for more than 60 years. “It’s also our goal for Southern Company’s customers to experience no change in levels of service.”

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