MichCon Offers Advice on Evaluating Alternative Natural Gas Suppliers


DETROIT, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- With winter's coldest months still ahead, MichCon is providing customers with information to help them determine if a change of natural gas suppliers for their home or business is the right choice for them.

Michigan residents and businesses have the option of purchasing natural gas from their local utility at a regulated rate, or from a number of alternative gas suppliers licensed by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

"Alternative gas suppliers are contacting customers by telephone, by direct mail or door-to-door and asking them to switch their natural gas supplier," said Mark Stiers, MichCon's vice president of gas supply. "It's important to be an informed consumer and ask lots of questions to determine if changing suppliers will actually help you save money or provide other benefits."

Alternative gas suppliers generally offer a fixed price for natural gas for a contractual period of time. This price may be higher than the current rate charged by the local utility -- but often will be guaranteed not to increase during the contractual period.

While utilities like MichCon cannot offer a fixed price, utilities' natural gas rates are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission, and are provided to customers at the same price the utility paid to secure the gas. By state regulation, revenues for utilities such as MichCon are derived from service and distribution costs -- not from a mark-up of natural gas prices.

When considering a switch to an alternative gas supplier, customers should ask the following questions:

  -- What price do you charge for natural gas?
  -- What are the terms and length of the contract?
  -- Will the price change during the contract?
  -- What are my cancellation rights?
  -- Is there a cancellation penalty?  If so, how much?

"MichCon supports a customer's right to choose their natural gas supplier," Stiers said. "But, with Michigan's tough economy, it's more important than ever that people understand their options and make an informed decision so they don't pay more than necessary for their winter heating bills."

To comparison shop natural gas prices, customers should check the rate offered by the alternative supplier and compare it to the "Gas Cost Recovery" rate listed on their MichCon bill.

Customers who enroll with an alternative gas supplier over the phone must be given a copy of the contract within seven days. Residential and small business customers may cancel the contract within 30 days of signing with no penalty.

Additional information is available at, or at the Michigan Public Service Commission Web site,


CONTACT: Len Singer, +1-313-235-8809, or Lorie Kessler, +1-313-235-8807,
both for MichCon

Web site: