Competitive Gas Market



MORE CHOICES FOR CONSUMERS

On March 14, 1996, the New York State Public Service Commission approved plans to allow residential, small business, commercial, and industrial customers the option to start buying their own natural gas supply from sources other than the traditional utility companies. Over time, customers may choose to purchase their gas from a non utility supplier or local utility. Through competition, it is expected that some customers may see savings reflected in their gas bills. Individual customers will receive different results depending on the supplier they choose.

PRINCIPLES ENCOURAGING COMPETITION

The Commission's principles governing natural gas competition emphasize:

    • Fair competition for existing local distribution companies and new market entrants.
    • Customer benefits from increased choices and improved performance.
    • Provide core customers with quality service at affordable rates.

WHAT ARE YOUR CHOICES?

Until recently, only a utility supplied and transported natural gas through its pipeline system to a customer's business or home at one, bundled cost. As a natural gas customer you now have choices on who your supplier will be. You may choose your gas supplier...

You can decide to continue to purchase gas from your utility. If you do so, the rates you pay will continue to be set by the Public Service Commission, as they are today. You may choose a non utility supplier...

If you elect to buy gas from a non utility supplier, the rates will be negotiated by you and this company. You will continue to pay the utility company which will still be responsible for the safe, reliable delivery of gas through its distribution system to your home or business.

WHAT SHOULD YOU CONSIDER BEFORE CHOOSING?

To assist you in making an informed decision about your gas service, the following information highlights areas you should consider. You may want to discuss options with your utility or non utility supplier.

You may get additional information by writing to us at the following address: New York State Public Service Commission, Consumer Services Division, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223; or by accessing the Commission's Website at http://www.dps.ny.gov or by calling our toll-free information number at 1-888-ASKPSC-1. 

    • Billing History: You could request a copy of your billing history from your utility. You can use this information to compare your cost under the different rates offered by various non utility suppliers. You could study your usage patterns which would be helpful in making choices.
    • Choosing a Supplier: Choosing a non utility supplier requires the same approach 
      you would take in purchasing other products or services for your home or business. 
      Some non utility suppliers may not choose to offer service in your area. You may be
      able to make arrangements on your own if you are a large volume consumer. Or, if 
      you are a smaller consumer, you may want to join a group of consumers to purchase 
      gas through a non utility supplier. You will continue to pay the utility for the transport 
      of the gas to your home or business.
    • Access to Customer Services: The utility will continue to provide you with certain 
      services, such as meter testing and reading. You may request information on the
      available customer services.
    • Responsibility to Report Safety Problems: Always report any possible safety problems, 
      such as a noticeable odor or gas leak, 
      immediately to the utility's emergency 
      telephone number
      .
    • Option to Return: You may return to the utility just as you would if you moved to a new 
      location in the same utility's service territory.
    • Join a Group of Consumers: A group of smaller customers, such as stores in a mall or 
      an apartment complex, may be formed to purchase gas or services through a non utility 
      supplier.
    • List of Non utility Suppliers: You may request a list of participating non utility suppliers 
      from your utility or the New York State Public Service Commission.
    • Gas Pricing and Purchasing: Remember to take the same steps in making a decision 
      about your gas supply just as you would for any other purchases. When available, get 
      a reference list from the non utility supplier AND speak with other customers who have 
      used its services.
    • Package of Services: You may be offered a package of services that you may want to 
      receive from the non utility supplier (
      e.g., equipment maintenance or replacement). A 
      full-service non utility supplier will handle all of the administrative work required to 
      purchase and deliver the gas.
    • Contract Terms: The terms of the agreement or contract depend on your purchasing 
      plans and particular gas needs, and should define in writing the responsibilities of both 
      you and the non utility supplier.

PROTECTIONS AVAILABLE TO CONSUMERS

Under the new natural gas industry framework, some protections will still be available for residential and nonresidential consumers when they purchase gas from a non utility supplier.

The changes in the natural gas industry will result in new relationships between the non utility supplier and you, as its customer. Non utility suppliers have to provide certain consumer protections but they may not be the same as those offered by the utility.

If You Are A Residential Consumer...

These are the protections in place for you:

    • Contract Review: Contracts between non utility suppliers and customers must contain 
      generic, plain language that describes the protections the consumer will have. Each 
      non utility supplier is required to file a model copy of its standard contract or service 
      offering with the New York State Public Service Commission.
    • Complaint Procedures: Each non utility supplier must offer a dispute resolution process 
      and make it accessible to its customers. Non utility suppliers must provide written notice 
      to customers 15 days before disconnecting service to all the customer an opportunity 
      to pay overdue bills or request service from another provider.

If You Are A Nonresidential Consumer...

These are the protections in place for you:

    • Contract Review: Contracts or service arrangements between non utility suppliers and 
      customers must contain generic, plain language that describe certain protections. Each 
      non utility supplier is required to file a model copy of its standard contract or service 
      offering with the New York State Public Service Commission.
    • Complaint Procedures: Each non utility supplier must offer a dispute resolution process 
      and make it accessible to its customers.
If you continue service with your utility, current protections will remain the same.