Retail Unbundling - District of Columbia

Status: All residential customers in the District of Columbia are able to choose their own natural gas supplier.

Overview: All residential natural gas customers in the District of Columbia are eligible to participate in a customer choice program through Washington Gas Light, the area's sole natural gas local distribution company (LDC). In February 2001, the Public Service Commission (PSC) gave approval for a full-scale choice program for all D.C. residents. A pilot program had been underway since January 1999. In November 2001, about 13,000 of the more than 130,000 residential customers in D.C. were participating and about 15,800 in December 2001. These participation numbers have dropped, however, since the peak of 17,622 (14 percent) in December 2000. The number of participating marketers has dropped from five in March 2000 to three as of December 2001. These three alternative suppliers are: ECONergy Energy Company, Pepco Energy Services, and Washington Gas Energy Services. The PUC has established a working group to recommend incentives for increased supplier participation, develop licensing and certification procedures for marketers, propose customer protection standards, and develop a consumer education program.

All D.C. small commercial customers (using less than 40,000 therms annually) also have full access to customer choice. About 4,000 of the more than 11,000 small commercial entities in D.C. had enrolled as of December 2001. Large commercial users were already eligible for unbundled service.

EIA Data: In 2000, the District of Columbia had 138,252 residential and 11,106 commercial customers who consumed 15 and 18 billion cubic feet of natural gas, respectively. The average prices paid for natural gas purchased from the local distribution company by residential and commercial customers were $10.81 and $9.63 per thousand cubic feet, respectively.

Eligibility/Participation in Retail Choice Programs:

Status as of December 2001: Number of Customers as Reported by the DC Public Service Commission



Customer Type


Total

Eligible

Participating

Total

Percent of Total

Total

Percent of Eligible Percent of Total
Residential 131,648 131,648 100 15,807 12 12
Commercial 13,584 13,584 100 4,312 32 32
Total 145,122 145,122 100 20,119 14 14

Source: District of Columbia Public Service Commission (December 2001).

District of Columbia: Legislative and Regulatory Actions on Retail Unbundling

Summary: The D.C. Public Service Commission approved a 2-year customer choice pilot program through Washington Gas Light (Washington Gas Light tariff GT96-2) in April 1998 for 13,000 residential customers with enrollment starting in the fall of 1998. In May 1999, the PSC removed the cap on the number of customers who can enroll and allowed customers to sign up at any time. The PSC also approved expansion of the "large commercial" customer pilot program to include those who use more than 40,000 therms per year (the previous criterion was 60,000 therms), and approved a pilot aggregation program for small commercial customers (less than 40,000 therms per year) beginning November 1999. The pilot program for residential customers was made permanent in February 2001, and a working group was formed to address the issue of declining marketer participation. The group was also tasked with developing licensing procedures for marketers, a consumer education plan, and customer protection standards.

Regulatory and Legislative Actions
Regulatory Actions 2/01 Pilot Program made permanent. Order 11928, Docket 99, 2-21-01. The PSC also directed that a working group be formed to develop licensing and certification procedures for marketers, recommend incentives for increased supplier participation, develop a consumer education plan, and propose customer protection standards.
2/00 Rolling Enrollment for Small Commercial Customer Pilot. On February 16, 2000, the PSC instituted a rolling enrollment for all customers.
10/99 Customer Choice Pilot for Small Commercial Customers. Washington Gas Light tariff GT97-3 effective 10/22/99. The PSC extended the deadline to 12/31/99 for enrolling in a 2-year pilot choice program starting 11/1/99 for small commercial customers (those using less than 40,000 therms per year). Participation in the pilot is for at least 1 year with enrollment possible for an additional 1-year period not to extend past 1/2002.
5/99 Expansion of Customer Choice Pilot. Washington Gas Light tariff. The PSC removed the cap on the number of customers who can enroll in the choice pilot program so that all residential customers are eligible. The PSC eliminated the enrollment deadline of March 1999 and instead allows customers to enroll at any time. Service is for a term of at least 1 year and not to extend past 3/2001. Marketers participating in the pilot must have in aggregate a minimum of 100 dekatherms of customers' daily contract quantity. The "large commercial" customer pilot program was expanded to include those who use more than 40,000 therms per year (the previous criterion was 60,000 therms). The PSC also approved a pilot aggregation program for small commercial customers (less than 40,000 therms per year) with enrollment scheduled between 8/1/99 and 10/1/99.
4/98 Approval of Customer Choice Pilot for 13,000 Residential Customers. Washington Gas Light tariff GT96-2. The PSC approved a 2-year pilot choice program for 13,000 residential D.C. customers beginning 11/1/98. Service under the pilot is for a 1-year term that can be renewed for an additional 1-year period. A customer requesting a return to bundled service must give 1-month notice.
2/98

Approval of Customer Choice for D.C. Businesses. Washington Gas Light tariff. The PSC approved customer choice for large commercial customers who consume at least 60,000 therms of gas annually. Third-party supply service is available after 4/1/98 and enrollment is for a minimum of 1 year.

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File last modified: 06/14/2002