State Representative Moses' office sent FOX Fort Wayne an e-mail inviting us to a news conference. The subject line said quote "Moses to warn residents on Wednesday about gas pricing scam" But during the news conference Moses would not use the word scam. He did warn that residents will pay more with a private natural gas provider than they will if they stick with NIPSCO.
FOX Fort Wayne spoke with one of the companies Moses was referring to. We also spoke with a NIPSCO representative, who says the companies are legitimate.
Representative Moses told Fort FOX Wayne natural gas customers need to watch out for private providers who lock in fixed rates. Moses says “People need to examine it. Do not take on fate that this has been regulated and given the good housing keeping stamp of approval, in any fashion. It has not. You are fully at risk with this.”
NIPSCO says the companies have to follow guidelines they set. Larry Graham, the spokesperson for NIPSCO, says “For a supplies to participate in the NIPSCO choice program they have to meet certain criteria about how they will market their product.
But after that it is a competitively priced product that they need to go out and sell their product in whatever way they need to be profitable. “
There are 12 private gas provides. Moses says it's unlikely the gas rate will ever go as high as the private company claims it can. Moses says “This is a business in my opinion that has been driven entirely by lack of information. They people don't know what they are buying. There's not a website they can go to before now and they're probably made some decision that have cost them money.”
But Scott White, the President of the private company IGS Energy says they’re giving customers certainty in an unpredictable market. White says “What we offer is a fixed price and that fixed price gives customer’s protection against changes in the market, as compared to a utility rate that is a variable change.” And “We don't know what the utility rate is going to be. It could be higher or lower than our rate. Some people like to have a fixed rate option.”
A spokesperson for NIPSCO says for some customers a fixed rate is the best option. Graham says “That might work for some customers. It might not. The program shouldn't be looked at as a way to save money. But as a way to get control over that price, so customers know what they are going to pay and they are comfortable with that amount.”
Both NIPSCO and Win Moses encourage people to do their research before signing a contract with a private provider.
On Friday NIPSCO will launch a new web site. We're told the website will clearly show comparisons between the utility company and private providers. NIPSCO says it's trying to make it easier for customers to find the best price.