In 1997 the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that deregulated the natural gas industry in the state. With deregulation customers were allowed the opportunity to select their own natural gas company from among a variety of providers. Atlanta Gas Light, who previously sold and distributed natural gas, took on a new role of just distributing and storing natural gas. AGL is responsible for building and maintaining pipelines, storage, reading meters, and responding to leaks and emergencies but not the sale of natural gas.
Natural gas marketers now make up the majority of sales and service providers in GA. When choosing a company to provide your natural gas service, there are several factors to consider. Deregulation has allowed companies to engage in market-based competition, allowing them to recruit and maintain customers based on price and service. Researching each natural gas company that services your area will help you determine the right company and right payment plan for your household.
Reputation is important in making your selection. Survey your friends and family to find out their satisfaction with their provider. Take time to call each company that provides natural gas in your area and record details of your experience. Did you sit on hold for a long time? Were your questions answered clearly and competently? Was the service friendly and helpful? Do the call center hours work well with your schedule? Is the website easy to find and easy to navigate? If you have a bad experience with the first time you call then you will likely be unsatisfied with the service in the future.
The natural gas company you choose should offer you the best price, best service and best payment options. Your bill will reflect your per-therm rate or how much the company charges you for the natural gas units you use. This rate can change depending on the company you use and a low per-therm rate is not always the best deal. Ask each company you contact about any additional customer service charges or other fees. Every natural gas company in Georgia will charge a base fee that covers pipeline, storage and meter-reading costs performed by AGL.
A variety of payment plans are available based on the natural gas company you selected. Per-therm plans allow you to pay only for the therms you use and are adjusted according to the price of fuel. When fuel prices are low, you can save money by paying per therm and taking measures to reduce your natural gas use and efficiency, but when fuel prices go up, so does your bill. A fixed-rate plan assures that your therm rate will not fluctuate over the period of your contract. Generally speaking, the company will offer a lower per-therm rate the longer your contract. Be sure to inquire about any assessed fees for early cancellation.
Families that qualify as low-income and adults over the age of 65 in any income bracket may be eligible for discounted rates. Ask about any promotions or discounts that your natural gas company offers to customers.