Customer CHOICE®

Customer CHOICE®

CHOICE® FAQs

Why is Columbia Gas of Kentucky offering this program?

We know that consumers like to shop around for competitively priced products and services. And we believe you should have the same opportunity for your energy needs. That's what the Customer CHOICE® program is all about.

In the past, Columbia has both purchased your gas supply for you and delivered it to your home. As a regulated company, we have simply passed the price we pay for gas directly on to you with no markup. Deregulation has opened up the marketplace so that other gas marketers can now compete for your business, offering natural gas at competitive prices. The Customer CHOICE® program makes it easy for you to take full advantage of this new competition and selectively shop for your best natural gas price.

Aren't you giving away customers?

No. Regardless of who you choose to supply your gas, Columbia Gas of Kentucky will still deliver it to your home or business. We will remain the same dedicated company you trust to deliver your gas, read your meter, assist you with billing and respond quickly to any emergency.

Why should I change my gas supplier?

Potential savings. The cost of the natural gas represents approximately 50-65 percent of your monthly gas bill, depending on the price of the commodity. You may be able to reduce that amount through Customer CHOICE®. Besides cost savings, marketers might offer other incentives as well.

How much could I expect to save?

That depends on the marketer you choose and the program they offer. Some marketers may offer a flat rate for a certain amount of gas. Others may offer guaranteed savings or package incentives. Just remember, gas prices may fluctuate in a competitive market, so the amount of your total savings might vary over time depending upon your marketer's plan.

Are these savings guaranteed?

Only if the marketer you choose provides a guarantee. Columbia Gas of Kentucky can't guarantee any offer made by marketers.

How should I compare offers from marketers?

The most important common denominator for comparing costs and savings is the cost per thousand cubic feet (Mcf). Use it to compare marketer offers to each other and to the Columbia Gas Mcf cost. In addition, as a customer of Columbia during the previous 12 months, you will pay or receive a credit as part of the Actual Cost Adjustment that is made to ensure that customers pay the exact amount we pay for natural gas each year. Depending on whether Columbia has overestimated or underestimated its gas costs, customers either receive a slight credit or charge in the following year. That credit or charge will only remain on your bill for the months during the prior year that you were supplied by Columbia Gas of Kentucky, but it should be considered when comparing marketer offers.

Do I have to make a choice?

No. Participation is voluntary. If you don't choose a marketer, Columbia Gas of Kentucky will continue to provide your gas at the current regulated price.

How will I know if I'm eligible to participate?

If you live in Columbia Gas of Kentucky's service area and use less than 25,000 Mcf of natural gas annually, you are eligible. This would include small businesses. If you're not sure about your eligibility, contact us.

Is there a fee to participate?

There are no application or membership fees attached to your initial choice in the Customer CHOICE® Program. In fact, some marketers may offer you incentives to sign up. Read your marketer's contract carefully to determine if there are any additional fees. Columbia will not charge a fee to return from a marketer, but read your contract carefully to determine if there are any fees charged by the marketer should you leave prior to the end of your contract period.

Is the quality of gas the same?

Yes. There are no "grades" of natural gas. The quality and safety of the gas are the same as you've always received no matter who supplies it. And Columbia still provides safe and reliable delivery of the gas to your home and business.

Why can't Columbia Gas give me lower rates and keep things as they are?

The price Columbia Gas of Kentucky charges for natural gas is adjusted quarterly to reflect current market conditions, interstate pipeline and storage costs and is approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. Prices charged by deregulated gas marketers are not, so they can price their gas differently. Natural gas marketers are also able to offer you options that we as a utility cannot. For example, you might be able to lock in your gas price for a year, or buy your gas on a seasonal basis rather than monthly. They may offer different prices to different types of customers.

How does Columbia make a profit?

Columbia earns income from the transportation and delivery of your natural gas and related services we provide...not on the price of the gas itself. Charges for these services are also regulated, based on rates approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

If I choose a new marketer, what services will Columbia provide me?

Columbia will still be your local gas utility. We'll read your meter, respond to emergencies, and maintain company-owned pipelines. Rest assured, we remain fully committed to providing you with the best possible service, whether you purchase your gas from Columbia or another marketer.

What standards must natural gas suppliers meet?

To qualify for the Customer CHOICE® program, all marketers must agree to a Code of Conduct, which requires them to:

  • Clearly communicate customers' rights and responsibilities
  • Provide to customers pricing and payment terms that are clear and understandable
  • Refrain from fraudulent practices
  • Submit to a credit check
  • Provide a means to resolve disputes between the supplier and the customer

How will I learn about participating marketers?

Qualified marketers may contact you with information using advertising, direct mail, personal contact, or other customary means to promote their services. Or you can call us for a list of participating suppliers and contact them yourself. We will update the list as new suppliers qualify.

How do I sign up for the Customer CHOICE® Program?

It's simple to enroll: You sign a written agreement with your marketer stating the terms and conditions of your purchase agreement, and you fill out a Customer Consent Form including your signature and Columbia Gas of Kentucky account number.

Can I enroll in Customer CHOICE® by telephone?

Yes, you can enroll by telephone on a call initiated by either you or the marketer.

During the telephone call, the marketer will ask you if you've reviewed the contract terms. If you say "yes," the customer enrollment is completed over the phone and you'll have seven business days to cancel. If you say "no," the marketer will review with you the terms of the offer orally. You can still be enrolled during that phone conversation. However, the marketer must mail you a confirmation letter containing the written terms and conditions of the offer within three (3) business days. You then have seven (7) business days, from the postmark date on the confirmation notice sent by the marketer, to rescind/cancel any enrollment. The marketer must record the complete conversation in a date-stamped audio recording and inform you that the conversation is being recorded. If any customer enrolled by phone cancels within the seven business-day cancellation period, the marketer must provide a cancellation number for verification.

How long will I have to stay with a new marketer, and can I change marketer?

The length of your contract will be decided between you and your marketer, though your initial contract can be for no longer than one year. When your contract expires, you may change suppliers, keep the same supplier or return to Columbia Gas as your supplier. Read your marketer contract carefully to see if there might be a penalty for early termination, and to learn your rights if you should move during the contract period.

What if I want Columbia Gas to continue as my supplier?

You don't have to do a thing. If you choose not to participate in the Customer CHOICE® program, we will continue to purchase and deliver gas for you just as we always have. You don't have to notify anyone of your decision.

If I change marketers, how will I be billed?

You will continue to receive your monthly Columbia Gas bill. Your marketer's name and price charged for natural gas will appear on your Columbia Gas bill.

Can I still use Columbia's Budget Payment Plan?

Yes, you can participate in the Budget Payment Plan.

Can I still use the Autopay Service?

Yes, you can participate in the Autopay Service.

Will another gas marketer be as reliable as Columbia Gas?

The Customer CHOICE® program has been designed so that you will always have gas when you need it no matter who your marketer is. We'll work closely with your marketer to make sure you never run out.

What if I have a dispute with the marketer?

First, contact the marketer and try to find a solution. If the marketer fails to make a good-faith attempt to negotiate or resolve customer complaints, Columbia has the right to terminate the marketer's participation in the CHOICE® program. If a marketer does not live up to your contract, you can always switch back to Columbia or to another marketer. Columbia will not terminate or interrupt the delivery of gas to you as a result of a dispute between you and the marketer. You also can notify the Kentucky Public Service Commission  of your situation.

What if I fail to honor the agreement with the supplier?

You should realize that you're signing a contractual agreement, and you must honor the terms. Be sure to read the entire contract carefully to understand your rights to change suppliers or cancel under reasonable circumstances, such as relocation to an area where the program isn't available. Also, be aware of any cancellation fees that might apply. If you have any questions, ask for answers in writing before you sign a contract with a marketer.

If you have any comments or questions about the Customer CHOICE® program, please contact us.

CHOICE® is a registered service mark of Columbia Gas of Kentucky, Inc.