04/01/2005 - Make a Choice
by Stephanie Reeves
The Selection Period for the Wyoming Choice Gas Program is here. The dates for this year' Selection Period are April 11 through April 29. This is a change from previous years when the deadline for making a choice was May 1st.
Most importantly is that despite the fact that on March 11 the Wyoming Public Service Commission approved the automatic roll-over provision subject to further review of educational materials, the automatic rollover provision will not be in effect for the 2005 Choice Gas Program selection period.
On March 18, the parties met to review the educational materials and the Public Service Commission decided to table the issue As a result of that action, the roll-over provision, which would allow customers to stay with their supplier from the previous year at the same rate option, is not going to be available this year.
If customers do not make a Choice Gas selection this year, they will be placed on the pass-on rate. This decision does not affect other services such as telephone, Internet, cable, etc. Consumers of these services do not have to make a selection of their provider unless they choose to do so. However, this is not true for customers in the this year's Choice Gas Program. If a customer does not want the pass-on rate, an active choice must be made to stay with a supplier. If customers want the pass-on rate, they are not required to make a selection to remain with the regulated utility option, which is Kinder Morgan. The pass-on rate is one where the utility (Kinder Morgan) passes on their costs—dollar for dollar. It has been stated that there is no profit in the pass-on rate. Natural gas for the pass-on customer is purchased from suppliers whose intent is to make a profit on gas they sell to Kinder Morgan. The pass-on rate is reviewed and can change at least quarterly, however, it could be reviewed and changed monthly. There is not much security in that.
One of the positive aspects about the Choice Gas Program is that customers can make a decision on what type of rate option they may want and which supplier they may want to choose. There are four suppliers in the Choice Gas Program this year. This provides competition for the customers. Natural gas rates will be close between suppliers because they all buy from the same market at the same time. For example, if four gasoline stations are located at an intersection, one on each corner, the prices for gasoline will be very close, if not identical. Without competition, fair pricing might be an issue. Competitive pricing for natural gas operates the same way, so make a selection from one of the four suppliers. It is very important to Make a Choice!
Since its inception in 1996, changes have been made to the Choice Gas Program to make it fair and the process simplified and understandable. This year every customer will receive a packet containing an information booklet and their Selection Form. All of the suppliers' information and toll-free phone numbers are listed.
A customer can make a selection by contacting a supplier by internet, or by phone, or mailing their completed selection form. Customers are encouraged to call suppliers for the rates as these may change daily and in some cases change several times during the day depending upon the volatility of the natural gas market. A confirmation code will correspond with the rate, and some suppliers will have an expiration date on the confirmation code.
To ensure that customers get the supplier and rate option that best suits their budget, they need to make a choice. Remember, the Selection Period is April 11 through April 29. Act positively! Make a Choice!