In 2013, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued an order directing all Pennsylvania natural gas utilities, including National Fuel, to provide residential and small commercial customer information to licensed natural gas suppliers or non-utility energy marketers that provide services in the state of Pennsylvania. As part of the Natural Gas Choice and Competition Act, residential and commercial customers have the choice to purchase their natural gas supply (which makes up about half of the overall monthly bill) from a utility or from a non-utility natural gas marketer.
As required by the order, the Eligible Customer List (ECL) includes the customer's account number, name, address, consumption/usage data and other service-related information. The PUC believes access to customer information will enable natural gas suppliers to identify potential customers and assist in promoting a competitive retail market. Customer phone numbers and email addresses are not included.
National Fuel will contact customers starting Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, by mail with details about the order and options regarding the release of information to the non-utility natural gas suppliers.
Customers who would like to have their information included in the ECL do not need to do anything. Customers who want to opt out of the ECL should notify National Fuel by Feb. 15, 2017, in one of three following ways:
• Complete a form on the National Fuel website at www.natfuel.com/ECL.aspx.
• Call National Fuel toll-free at l-855-90ptOut (1-855-967-8688).
• Complete and return the form provided with the letter.
Another option for customers is to participate in the ECL, but to request to withhold consumption and usage data.
“We want to assure customers that National Fuel takes every precaution to protect customer data,” said Carly Manino, National Fuel spokesperson. “Natural gas suppliers are required to log into a password-protected portion of the National Fuel website to obtain the ECL and are required by the PUC to safeguard the confidentiality of the customer information provided in the ECL.”
Customers who choose to opt out of the ECL will have this option remain in effect on their account until the next ECL customer solicitation, which is required by the PUC every three years. Customers can request to be added to the ECL at any time should they change their mind before the next solicitation in late 2019.
Customers who opt out of the ECL prior to Dec. 15, 2016, will need to re-establish their opt-out preference. The PUC does not allow a customer's prior opt-out preference to be carried forward when a new ECL is created.
Opting out will not prevent customers from shopping on their own for a natural gas supplier. It may, however, limit the number of solicitations they receive.
Customers who want their information provided to the natural gas suppliers, can expect to be contacted by various energy marketers. When considering other natural gas suppliers, customers should take the same approach as they would in contracting for other services for their home. Ask about rates, request references and take the time to speak with current customers.
Additional information about “Choosing a Natural Gas Supplier,” including a complete list of licensed natural gas suppliers and suggested questions to ask, can be found on National Fuel's website at www.natfuel.com/ForHome/pa/choosing a suoplier.aspx.
National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation is the Utility segment of National Fuel Gas Company, a diversified energy company that is engaged in a number of natural gas-related activities. The Utility provides natural gas service to more than 740,000 customers in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.
For more information, visit www.nationalfueIgas.com.