Natural Gas Suppliers in the United States
In June of 1999, an act called the Natural Gas Choice and Competition Act was signed into state law. This law made it possible for the consumers of natural gas in Pennsylvania to choose their suppliers of natural gas if they wanted to not buy gas from their utility anymore. Pennsylvania was actually one of the first states in the United States of America to encourage competition in the market by approving deregulation. Why this became necessary was essentially due to the fact that Natural Gas monopolies had created higher prices than necessary.
Third party suppliers of natural gas allowed for customers to choose from amongst the different suppliers according to the rates that they found affordable as well as the services that were offered. Different companies had to up their game and remain in competition, which is why deregulation made it necessary for gas providers and suppliers to constantly improve infrastructure, rates and services as well. Since that act was passed in 1999, thousands of residents, local users, business owners and commercial entities have switched from their utilities to alternative energy and gas providers.
The process initially began in 1994 when the Public Utilities Commission decided to investigate how exactly the competition in the market was affecting prices. These findings were then published in a study and that study became the main motivator behind the state assembly passing the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act. After this act was passed, the Natural Gas Choice and Competition Act was passed in 1999.
Since then, only 13% of natural gas consumers have ended up switching from their respective utility in Pennsylvania. This number sadly includes commercial and industrial enterprises. Only about 12% of residential consumers have switched their gas suppliers. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is a staunch supporter of consumer choice, which is why it is shocking to see such a small amount of people switching their gas suppliers. This might be a result of not everyone in Pennsylvania having access to natural gas. It is certain that natural gas has not been marketed as aggressively as electricity has been over the past couple of years, which contributes to why more people are not buying natural gas.
While this gas regulation has not been enjoyed or benefited from by residential costumer as much as it should have been, industries are widely using this gas regulation for their benefit. Around 70% of the state’s 5000 industries have taken advantage of gas deregulation and these industrial customers actually make up around 99% of the industrial load as well. It is estimated that over 50% of the state wide gas load is serviced by the competitive and alternative suppliers of gas in the marketplace.