Originally created 02/04/05

Gas deregulation is out of control



Public Service Commission members who voted to deregulate home gas prices have done a grave disservice to the citizens of Georgia.

When public utility prices take a third to half of Social Security checks, something is wrong with the system. I contacted the Public Service Commission by e-mail after an unsuccessful attempt to identify which gas companies offered senior citizen rates. The instructions received were not helpful and I could not access the companies.

In October, the cost of gas used in my home was $2.49. Atlanta Gas charged $14.54, and Shell Energy charged $5.95. In the winter, prices increase but to an unreasonable rate, often more than $300.

The Public Service Commission has created a monopoly that gives the option of variable or fixed rates. Fixed rates are locked in for a time period and there is a $50 penalty for change to another company. It's a complicated system, subject to change. Sometimes the Atlanta Gas charge is almost equal to the gas used charge.

Lobbyists for the gas companies sure were successful.

I previously lived in the Intermountain West in a 2,700-square-foot condo, 8,500 feet above sea level, in the mountains, and my highest gas bill was $125. In Georgia, in a 1,500-square-foot home kept at 60 degrees, the bill is $94.52, $29.85 of which were Atlanta Gas and Shell Energy charges.

Whoever voted for this legal public scam should be ashamed. What a whitewash to allow a utility company to charge almost as much as a house payment.

Julia Anne Mueller, Augusta