Residential Retail Unbundling for Wyoming
|Status: Wyoming has one pilot customer choice program for residential customers.|
|Overview: Wyoming's residential choice program ("Choice Gas"), which was set up by KN Energy (now doing business as Kinder Morgan) and approved by the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC), is in its tenth year of operation. The program originally allowed residential and small commercial customers in 10 eastern Wyoming communities (Torrington division) to choose their natural gas suppliers. In 2002, the program was expanded to include customers in Kinder Morganís Casper and Gillette rate service areas as well, thus extending choice to all of Kinder Morganís natural gas customers in Wyoming. The PSC also approved a regulated rate option for the choice gas program in the Casper and Gillette divisions. Subsequently, Torrington customers complained about not having the option of a regulated rate, particularly since it was less than the prices being offered by the third-party suppliers at the time. As a result, the PSC initiated an investigation into all aspects of the Wyoming choice program and conducted a series of public meetings in early 2003.
In March 2003, the PSC concluded that Kinder Morganís choice program was in the public interest and could continue, but with some modifications. The PSC ordered that the regulated rate, which was renamed the ďpass-on rate (regulated rate),Ē should be an option for all Kinder Morgan customers and be the default rate for customers who make no selection. It also decided that the $1 customer charge associated with the choice program cannot be charged to customers who choose the pass-on rate because they receive no benefits from the charge. Supplier information is to be available to customers via toll free telephone and through the Internet, and all customers are to be informed about the availability of budget billing regardless of their service choice. Kinder Morgan was also directed to clarify the distinction between its regulated distribution company and its marketing affiliate that supplies gas under the choice program.
Four suppliers besides the utility are participating in this yearís choice program that began on June 1, 2005, and runs through May 2006. About 60 percent of Kinder Morganís customers have chosen the utilityís pass-on rate, while 22 percent are enrolled with Kinder Morganís marketing division. The State Office of Consumer Advocate filed a formal complaint with the PSC in April 2005, accusing Kinder Morganís marketing affiliate of false and deceptive advertising during the 2005-2006 choice selection period. The PSC dismissed the suit on a technicality in June, but voted in December to require companies participating in choice programs to submit ads to the PSC within 2 days of running the ads.
|EIA State Data: In 2004, Wyoming had 137,434 residential and 17,490 commercial customers. They consumed 12 and 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas, respectively. The average prices paid for natural gas purchased from local distribution companies by residential and commercial customers were $8.65 and $7.24 per thousand cubic feet, respectively.|
|Eligibility/Participation in Retail Choice Programs:|
|Status as of December 2005: Number of Customers
|Wyoming: Regulatory and Legislative Actions on Retail Unbundling
Summary: The Wyoming Public Service Commission approved a choice program for customers in Kinder Morganís Torrington service area (10 communities in eastern Wyoming) in 1997. In 2002, the program was expanded to include all Kinder Morgan customers in the State. The PSC approved in March 2005 the companyís request (November 2004) to allow customers to rollover their existing service choices without having to for a change in its tariff language regarding customers who switch from the choice program to the utilityís regulated rate.
|Regulatory and Legislative Actions|