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 with enrollment peaking at 17,622 in December 2000 then falling to less than 11,000 in the summer of 2001. Participation has increased steadily since then. In December 2002, about 26,400 (19.5 percent) of the more than 135,000 residential customers in D.C. were participating, up sharply from the 15,800 (12 percent) enrolled in December 2001. Only three marketers were participating in the program in December 2001, but five companies were participating as of December 2002. The PUC established a working group in February 2001 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 4,510 of the approximately 9,000 small commercial entities in D.C. had enrolled as of December 2002. Large commercial users were already eligible for unbundled service.


EIA Data: In 2001, the District of Columbia had 138,412 residential and 10,816 commercial customers who consumed 13 and 17 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 $12.65 and $12.02 per thousand cubic feet, respectively.


Eligibility/Participation in Retail Choice Programs:


Status as of December 2002: Number of Customers


As Reported by the DC Public Service Commission

Customer Type


Total 2002

Eligible

Participating

Total

Percent of 2002 Total

Total

Percent of Eligible

Percent of 2002 Total

Residential

135,820

135,820

100

26,438

19.5

12

Commercial

13,747

13,747

100

4,510

32.8

32

Total

149,567

149,567

100

30,948

20.7

14

Source: District of Columbia Public Service Commission (December 2002).


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: 01/31/2003