The Georgia Public Service Commission has established standards for issuing certificates to marketers to compete under the state's Natural Gas Competition and Deregulation Act.
Under the standards, candidates must show their creditworthiness. To compete, a marketer must prove that its capital base or other financial resources can withstand the business and financial risk and absorb losses that might occur in providing firm gas service to retail customers.
S.B. 215, which was signed into law in April, established a regulatory framework to deregulate the gas industry. It applies only to Georgia's two investor-owned utilities, Atlanta Gas Light Co. and United Cities Gas Co. They will compete with marketers for sales of natural gas to their previous customers through affiliates. Marketers will compete to serve residential and small-business customers in order to access the pipes to serve large industrial and commercial customers.
Before competition can begin, the two utilities must file unbundling proposals at the PSC. Atlanta Gas Light has said it will file this fall. The PSC has seven months to hold a rate case from the date of the filing. Once adequate market conditions exist in a delivery group, a marketer will file a petition with the PSC requesting that effective competition be declared. The threshold is reached when no less than 33 percent of the peak-day requirements for firm distribution service is served through five or more marketers. Non-utility marketers must serve no less than 18 percent of the peak day requirement. At that point, the utility must withdraw from sales and operate only as a distribution company. Full competition is not expected until the end of 1998.