Commercial and industrial customers have a choice when it comes to their supplier of natural gas.
Natural gas service is essentially composed of a bundle of services. The two main components of natural gas service are: 1) the physical gas (referred to as "supply") and, 2) the delivery of the physical gas through the company's network of underground pipes (referred to as "transportation"). Regulated natural gas utilities are not permitted to make any profit on the sale of the physical gas, but only on the delivery service.
The price customers' pay for the physical gas is the exact same amount that the company paid. The Florida Public Service Commission monitors the company's purchases of the physical gas to ensure the company is making prudent supply acquisitions. In fact, the company must ask for permission from the Commission before being allowed to pass along any increases, or decreases, in the cost of the gas supply.
Regulations passed in 1999 allowed Florida natural gas utilities to "unbundle" the supply and transportation services for commercial and industrial customers. By doing so, commercial and industrial customers are now able to shop around for a third party supplier to provide their natural gas supply requirements. Regulated utilities still provide and charge for the transportation delivery service of the customer's gas supply to their meter.
Third party suppliers of natural gas are called gas marketers or pool managers. Commercial or industrial consumers who choose a gas marketer can obtain their natural gas at a negotiated price, which may differ from the price available from the utility.
Gas marketers or pool managers are simply a group of third-party brokers that are able to purchase natural gas from a variety of sources on the open market and pool the resources for resale to commercial customers. In many cases the pool manager can obtain more competitive short term and long term natural gas pricing, thereby providing more flexibility in gas purchases. In addition, pool managers are not usually responsible for many of the local charges and fees that a utility must collect, such as taxes and franchise fees.
Customers using gas marketers receive two bills, one from their utility for delivery or transportation of their gas supply and one from the pool manager for the natural gas consumed and any associated costs.
“Unbundling” means non-residential customers now have more control over their energy costs for natural gas. You can balance you operating expenses, while receiving the same reliable service from your local utility. This almost always results in bottom-line savings.