Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Shopping for Natural Gas

The Ithaca Journal:
Can a residential customer comparison shop for a commodity such as natural gas or electricity?

It's certainly not easy, say those who have tried. The prices change daily and, sometimes, hourly. It's not like shopping for a flat-screen television, where a buyer can consult Consumer Reports and then make the trek to several electronics retailers to compare models and prices.

There's no storefront, no public retail operation offering supplies from multiple companies. Shopping for natural gas involves phone calls to individual suppliers, some of whom are more forthcoming than others with prices and the impact on your personal bill. Information on past pricing history for any of the suppliers is scant or nonexistent...

Experts say shopping for natural gas may not even be worth the effort. Individual customers can't leverage huge consumption that, say, a large factory can use to bargain for lower rates.