Originally created 08/08/99

Natural gas costs increase



Lower prices through increased competition was one selling point that state officials used for natural gas deregulation.

So far, some consumers have yet to see the benefit on their monthly bills.

Several natural gas marketers have raised rates this month in response to increased wholesale prices.

Officials attribute the increase to electric utilities depleting reserves by cranking up gas-powered generators to meet their own customers' demand. It has been years since summer commodity prices have been this high, marketers say.

"Where we buy the gas in Louisiana and Texas, it's gone up tremendously over the past couple of months," said Infinite Energy President Darin Cook.

Retail prices tend to rise in step with wholesale prices, just as an increase in crude oil prices translates into higher prices at gas pump.

Infinite's rate went from 44 cents per therm to 46 cents per therm. Infinite customers who signed one-year contracts before the July 23 price increase are guaranteed the lower rate.

Gas rate comparison

Atlanta Gas Light co.
Base charge: $21.86
Gas charge: $7.97 (36.2 cents per therm)
Total bill: $29.83
(800) 427-5463

Columbia Energy Services
Base charge: $21.15
Gas charge: $8.34 (37.9 cents per therm)
Total bill: $29.49
Terms: Fixed for 18 months. A variable 36.9 cents per therm rate is available through November.
Contract: No
(888) 224-6622

Energy America
Base charge: $26.35
Gas charge: $7.52. Includes consumption charge of $4.06 (18.45 cents per therm) and $3.46 transportation fee (equivalent to 15.7 cents per therm).
Total bill: $33.87
Terms: Variable rates.Contract: No
(888) 305-3828

Gaskey
Base charge: $22.25
Gas charge: $6.05 (27.5 cents per therm).Other charges: $1.20 storage charge (DDDC multiplied by 93 cents) and $10.32 interstate pipeline charge (DDDC multiplied by $8).
Total bill: $39.82
Terms: Variable rates, but a one-year fixed rate of 29.3 cents per therm is also available.
Contract: No.
(877) 427-7539

Georgia Natural Gas Services
Base charge: $20.87
Gas charge: $9.44 (42.9 cents per therm)
Total bill: $30.31
Terms: Variable rates.
Contract: No.
(888) 878-3258

Infinite energy
Base charge: $19.30
Gas charge: $10.12 (46 cents per therm)
Total bill: $29.42
Terms: Rates fixed for one year.
Contract: Yes
(877) 342-5434

Peachtree Natural Gas
Base charge: $21.86
Gas charge: $8.14. Includes $5.06 consumption charge (23 cents per therm) and $3.08 interstate transportation and storage charge (14 cents per therm).
Total bill: $30
Terms: Variable rates, but a one-year fixed 38.5 cents per therm rate is also available.
Contract: No.
(877) 732-2442

Reliant Energy
Base charge: $21.30
Gas charge: $11.15 (50.7 cents per therm)
Total bill: $32.45
Terms: Rate fixed for up to two years. Variable rates also available.
Contract: Yes.
(800) 826-7401

Scana Energy
Base charge: $19.65
Gas charge: $8.58 (39 cents per therm)
Total bill: $28.23
Terms: Variable rates.
Contract: No.
(877) 467-2262

Shell Energy
Base charge: $20.88
Gas charge: $9.02 (41 cents per therm)
Total bill: $29.90
Terms: Rate fixed for one year. Special fixed monthly prices and variable rates also available.
Contract: No.
(877) 724-7435

Southeastern States EnerGY
Base charge: $19.30
Gas charge: $7.15 (32.5 cents per therm)Other charge: $13.92 interstate pipeline charge (DDDC multiplied by $10.79)
Total bill: $40.37
Terms: Rate fixed for one year. A two-year fixed 32 cents per therm rate also available. Interstate pipeline charge is variable.
Contract: Yes
(877) 477-3674

United Gas Management
Base charge: $20.87
Gas charge: $8.69 (39.5 cents per therm)
Total bill: $29.56
Terms: Rate fixed for three years.Contract: Yes
(888) 427-4872

(Total bill includes all charges except taxes. Some company bills may actually be lower because of special sales not included in this comparison.

Base charges are fixed costs AGL passes on to the gas marketers. The base charges vary because some marketers offer discounts or bundle in other fees.

Fixed charges such as billing fees and customer service fees are sometimes broken out of a company's base charges. However, those fees have been bundled for this comparison.

Cents per therm rates have been rounded up to the nearest tenth where applicable. Gas charges not based on consumption, such as interstate pipeline charges, can also be broken out and itemized. Those charges are noted in this comparison but have been bundled into total gas charges where applicable.)

Damon Cline can be reached at (706) 823-3486.