In Spring, 1996 New York State made it legal for small-volume users in the metropolitan area to purchase natural gas from
sources other than the major utility companies such as Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) and Brooklyn Union Gas (BUG). However, despite the fact that gas deregulation has received tremendous publicity in recent months, it is a subject few New Yorkers understand. Since neither Con Ed nor BUG have made a concerted effort to inform the public about the ramifications of gas deregulation, most small-volume usersmulti-family housing and small businesseshave little knowledge of what to expect.
Even the experts strongly disagree with each other. At the center of the controversy is the question of savings. Public utility spokespeople site the immediate benefits, while private consultants and real estate industry representatives believe the small-volume user is being misled. Who's right? And what does it all mean to your co-op or condo building? The final verdict is yet to be delivered.
The Genesis of Gas Deregulation
In the mid-1980s large volume users, such as industrial customers, were allowed to purchase natural gas from outside sources if they used interruptible service (dual-fuel burners or burners that can switch from natural gas to oil during the heaviest usage months in the winter). In December 1994 New York State extended this option to large-volume, firm customers (those that use only natural gas).