January 9, 2003, Atlanta, GA, - As cold winter winds blow, more than 12,000 Georgians are now taking advantage of a new law that lowers their gas bills or affords them access to natural gas.
But, according to the Atlanta Gas Light Company, some 35,000 Georgians are still without natural gas this winter. Under the new law, all of them should be eligible for natural gas this heating season.
The Natural Gas Consumers' Relief Act of 2002, which was signed into law in July, is being put to its first test this winter. The law is intended to provide rate relief to low-income citizens and low-income seniors and to provide access to natural gas to citizens whose gas has been disconnected for nonpayment.
"We encourage people out there who haven't been able to get natural gas service to call us. The SCANA Energy Regulated Division has designed programs specifically to meet the needs of both low-income and credit challenged customers", said George Devlin, vice president and general manager of SCANA Energy.
Sign-ups for the new program started slowly in the fall, when temperatures still hovered in the 80's. But since the weather has gotten colder, sign-ups have increased statewide.
"If members of the General Assembly and the Georgia Public Service Commission had not enacted this program, thousands of low-income Georgians would be paying significantly more for their natural gas this winter," said Devlin. The Georgia Public Service Commission appointed the SCANA Energy Regulated Division to administer the program. "Their leadership also ensured that Georgians will be able to heat their homes this season."
Some 10,000 eligible customers have signed up for the lower-rate program, while another 2,000 Georgians who had been denied service by other marketers have gained access to natural gas.
"The intent of the law was to cover as many people as possible and to ensure that no one is left out in the cold," said Devlin. "It is our goal to sign up as many eligible Georgians as possible, so that they have access to natural gas this winter."
Georgians who are without gas or who are eligible for lower rates under the low-income requirements should call toll-free (866) 245-7742.