Georgia Natural Gas (NG) Pricing across Vendors

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I've done tons of research on this and hope to launch a website for it some day. But in the meantime, a few words.

GPSC Pricing

The Atlanta area is unusual; not many other places let one choose their gas provider. It's interesting and fun academically.

NG stands for Natural Gas on this page.

Summary

  • Check the Georgia Public Service Commission for the latest prices. This is the core-critical list of prices to compare against.
  • The most important column in the GPSC spreadsheet is the one called "Marketer Filed Rate", and the generally lowest (best) rate is highlighted in yellow. Ignore the rest until you know what you're doing. If you don't have time to examine your particulars in detail, just choose the lowest yellow-highlight Fixed Rate plan.
  • Never use the Variable rate - it's for suckers. Variable rates are 2 or 3 times more than fixed rates. Simply compare any month's Fixed versus Variable rates for any given GPSC month. If you don't see what I'm saying, please contact me.
    • Beware Variable rate Intro promotional rates, which typically last a month or two. It is your choice whether to choose them when first moving to a place. BUT BE SURE to change when the promotional period is up. AND BE SURE they won't charge you $100 or $150 for changing when that month is up.   sucker
      • You can't be charged the cancel fee if you move away before the fixed contract is up.
  • No, gas rates are not higher in winter. In fact, NG prices are lower in winter, based on the the yellow-highlight lowest rates (the only ones you should look at, unless you really know what you're doing). It's paradoxical until you think about global climate warming. More on this below (see Summer Versus Winter Rates below).

That's it! Choose the yellow highlight in the latest GPSC "Fixed Rate Plans" spreadsheet if you are in a position to take a contract. (If you're not sure you'll be there for the length of the contract period, see Important Assumptions, below.)

You don't need to read anything more on this page unless you want to learn about how it all works.

AGL Base Charges

Until 1998, Atlanta Gas Light (website) was the sole NG provider in the northern Georgia area, and is now a major vehicle for NG sales in various parts of the state and country (PDF of their domains).

For Georgia, details on AGL Base Charges are on this AGL page and this GPSC page. If you want to get really precise, use this "Base Rate Example - Residential" spreadsheet from the AGL page. (Also see how to hack the spreadsheet to see all months' factors, below.)

All four GPSC Marketer Filed Rate PDFs for May 2018 have a footnote like this:

(3) The Total Annual Bill and Total Monthly Bill include the base charges from Atlanta Gas Light Company. 
The annual base charge for a typical customer with a 1.30 DDDC Factor is $330.47 and is $139.40 for qualifying senior citizens.
The May 2018 base charge is $25.91 for a typical customer with a 1.30 DDDC Factor, and is $7.50 for qualifying seniors with a 1.30 DDDC Factor.

Monthly Base Charge

You can easily get an independent confirmation your monthly base charge using this spreadsheet found on this AGL page. You will need the DDDC from your bill.

It may be off by one cent. It's just a helpful spreadsheet that has it's own rounding properties.

Annual Base Charge

The GPSC page on "Understanding Your Natural Gas Bills" has a section called "Why is my base charge different each month", that explains that the DDDC component is allocated as such:

Month Percent of AGL

DDDC charge

January 18%
February 19%
March 15%
April 8%
May 4%
June 3%
July 3%
August 3%
September 3%
October 3%
November 7%
December 14%
Total 100%

I think this could be explained better by saying there is a fixed set of base charges and a DDDC-dependent (variable) part. As of May 2018 it looks like this, for DDDC 1.300 (their typical usage) and Peaking Group Yes:

Summer Versus Winter Rates

They are actually a little lower in January versus July. Just compare the yellow highlighted Fixed Rate plans for July to January in the past year on the GPSC site.

I will change this text if it comes to be not true. It's been true for the past few years (as of May 2018). NG prices are at all time lows and probably mainly subject to supply and demand, which is subject to anticipated buildup for the winter, which is subject to the fact that we need less with climate warming. Caused by rapey energy companies.

Ergo facto: Lower prices in winter.

You can observe a lot by watching, as Yogi Berra (and a couple of scientists) said.

Important Assumptions

Everything written here assumes that:

  • You are not in a Regulated Provider hard-case group:
    • Regulated Provider Group 1 is for very low income households (as qualified through the state Depart of Human Resources). N.B., RPG1 is actually HIGHER than the lowest (yellow highlight) one! Choose wisely. I don't understand why GPSC doesn't make the lowest Fixed provider be the servicer for Regulated Provider Group 1, at least for Fixed contracts. (And what else is there but fixed contracts for a regulated provider?) I am contacting them about this.
    • Regulated Provider Group 2 is for high-credit risk customers who cannot obtain service from a marketer.
  • There are particular rules about breaking fixed rate contracts, and connection / reconnection fees. Read the fine print.
    • But there is no charge to break a fixed-rate contract if you move away. So you don't need to worry if you're not sure if you'll be at a place for less than 12 months (as long as you don't cancel your gas until you leave).

Extra

Hacking the AGL Charges Spreadsheet

Hacking AGL's "Base Rate Example - Residential" spreadsheet is pretty easy, which is no surprise. AGL is not trying to hide anything, as shown by their openness in providing the spreadsheet. But they don't want folks accidentally changing values and getting confused. I think they've made a decent compromise.

To expose all past monthly rates (the spreadsheet's Rates worksheet), google on unprotecting an Excel spreadsheet. One way is to simply upload it to Google drive and reveal it in Google Sheets, as follows:

  1. You'll need a Google Drive account. They're free for up to 15 GB, and you have one already if you have or make a Gmail account.
  2. Download the spreadsheet to your PC
  3. Upload it to Google Drive
  4. Open it in Google Sheets. Note: This is not the same as simply clicking on it in Google Drive (which only opens a viewer). On a PC, right click, then "Open With" > "Google Sheets".
  5. /View /Hidden Sheet(s) > Rates
  6. Save to PC, or work with it in Google Sheets

Now the Rates for every month are revealed, all the way back to November 1998. Here's an example as of May 2018.

The dropdown will let you select months after May 2018, but they have no data. Apparently it is updated approximately the 20th of each month, for the next month. For example, AGL updated/uploaded the spreadsheet with May 2018 data on April 20.

On the Rates worksheet are 11 columns. Here's how they relate to the all-important DDDC. Sort on DDDC to group them together:

Rates

Column

Description X

DDDC?

1 Month n/a
2 Customer Charge No
3 DDDC Charge Yes
4 Meter Reading Charge No
5 Peaking Charge Yes
6 Social Responsibility Charge No
7 Pipeline Replacement Program No
8 Customer Education No
9 Environmental Response Cost Rider Yes
10 Franchise Recovery Rider Yes
11 Synergy Savings No

If a column is "X DDDC" (times DDDC), then its value is multiplied by your DDDC. And yes, if your DDDC is 0, all those values go to zero. (Apartments can easily be less than 1.) The GPSC Marketer Pricing spreadsheets use a default of 1.30 for a typical customer.

For the record, my DDDC is 1.280 with a 3600 sq.ft. house. I've done a lot to insulate it, and in winter, we keep our thermostats at 67° F main level and basement, and 65° F upstairs.