Pa. Public Utility Commission offers new tool for finding better natural gas rates
February 4, 2013By Zack Seward
You probably know you can shop around for electricity providers, but you might not know you can do the same for natural gas. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is trying to change that with PA Gas Switch, a new website where you can find natural gas providers with the click of a mouse.
It's modeled on PA Power Switch, the PUC's website for electricity.
But where 35 percent of Pennsylvania consumers have shopped around for power, only 12 percent have done so for gas.
PUC spokeswoman Denise McCracken admits some options have been limited.
"Natural gas is pretty much natural gas," said McCracken. "So when a consumer is shopping for a competitive supplier, a lot will look at price and whether the price fits their budget. Also, they'll look at other incentives that companies might be willing to offer them."
McCracken says the new website is designed to empower consumers with more choices.
If you get natural gas from PECO, for example, you can choose from about 14 providers. With the Philadelphia Gas Works, however, that number is 0.
John Raisch is the co-founder of Paoli-based Alphabuyer. The web startup has been brokering natural gas for the past two years.
"Our expert perspective, though, is that shopping for and seeing savings in natural gas is much more difficult than in electricity," said Raisch.
Raisch welcomes the move by PUC to promote shopping for natural gas rates. He says increased awareness could lead to better options for consumers down the line, with suppliers having to find new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.