Gas marketers seek to change contracts
March 11, 2010
You may have received a phone call or a cold call at your home from someone representing a gas marketing company, offering you a fixed rate option for natural gas.
By signing the Consumer Agreement with a gas marketer, many consumers have been committing to buying natural gas at a fixed price for between one and five years.
Recently, it has been reported Residential customers who have contracts with independent gas marketers are paying twice as much on average for natural gas as customers who remain with Terasen Gas’s variable rate program, according to a document on file with the British Columbia Utilities Commission. The document notes that as of June 30, 2009, marketers were charging their customers an average price of $9.80 per unit of gas while Terasen’s regulated price was $5.92. Terasen’s rate dropped to $4.95 in October.
The document indicates that gas marketers are asking the utilities commission for the authority to change or break customers’ contracts — and “reduce” the price of gas on a month-to-month basis — in hopes of assuaging “buyer’s remorse” among those who are concerned about the disparity. A decision by the Utilities Commission on this request and several others is pending.
Keep in mind, if you have signed with a gas marketer, you have 10 days during which you can cancel your contract without penalty. When a gas marketer comes to your door, you can ask for the Customer Choice Standard Information Booklet for more information.
The following is a list of questions you can ask gas marketers in order to make an informed decision for yourself:
1. What is your price per gigajoule of gas?
2. How long is the term of this agreement?
3. Is the price per gigajoule of fixed over the entire term of the agreement? Or can it vary?
4. How does your gas price compare with other gas marketers’ fixed prices and to Terasen Gas’ variable prices?
5. What are the benefits and risks involved in a fixed term agreement?
6. What commitments will be made on my behalf?
7. What are the renewal provisions of the agreement?
8. What are the financial obligations and potential additional charges?
9. What is your company’s track record in supplying natural gas?
10. Who is authorized to sign an agreement with a gas marketer?
11. If I am not satisfied with the agreement and want to cancel within the 10 day cancellation period, how can I best contact you?
12. Will you provide me with a confirmation number telling me the cancellation process is complete?
13. After my 10 day cancellation period has ended, what are the rights and penalties for early termination of the agreement? Is there a minimum agreement term?
14. How many days does it generally take for my agreement to be sent and enrolled with Terasen Gas? How would I know when my 10 day cancellation period ends?
15. If I move to a new home, what information do I need to provide your company and Terasen Gas? Does the agreement follow me to my new home?
Similar programs are available in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, as well as in other areas throughout North America. However, in BC the Customer Choice Program is not available on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, in Whistler, Revelstoke or Fort Nelson.
Information on the BC Customer Choice program, go to
Information on the Alberta Customer Choice program by visiting the Atco Gas Website
Source: Vancouver Sun February 19, 2010 & www.terasengas.com.