Think twice about alternate fuel supplier offers

Recently, I received a letter in the mail from an alternate fuel supplier of natural gas for my residence heating. I think all of your readers should be alerted to the importance of being wary of these promotions and do their homework. The import of the letter was to give me a monthly budget amount (called LOCK 12) so that I would not be surprised by a big bill in the middle of the winter. The letter gave me a number to call, which I did.

It sounded very good, and I initially decided to go with it. I asked the following questions. What if I don’t use that much? Do I get a refund? I never got any satisfactory answers. The operator would just talk around the question.

So, I checked my past usage, which any natural-gas customer can do on the Internet. I found that the budget (12-month total amount) from the alternate supplier is 44 percent more than I paid for my total natural gas bill from NICOR the past 12 months. I have concluded, in my case, the answers to the questions should be: Too Bad and NO. They make it sound good. It is not, in my opinion, good for anyone.

So, I have canceled this agreement. I think I’ll take my chances with natural gas prices. With NICOR, you will always pay only for what you use. If you use NICOR’s budget plan, you will get a refund or credit if you don’t use more than is budgeted, or you could get a bigger bill if you use more. I don’t think my gas bill this winter will be 44 percent more.

There is more regarding this subject on the CUB (Citizens Utility Board) Web site:

Dave Gulick


From the October 28-November 3, 2009 issue

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