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Alternative Gas Suppliers

Attorney General Dana Nessel is issuing a Consumer Alert on Alternative Gas Suppliers (AGSs) after receiving complaints on deceptive practices by AGSs and learning that over 125 complaints have been filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on AGSs since the beginning of 2024. Below is helpful information on AGSs and consumer tips when interacting with AGSs.

What are AGSs?

AGSs are third-party companies that offer the purchase of natural gas for your home if you live in the Consumers Energy, DTE, SEMCO, or Michigan Gas Utilities natural gas service territories. Michigan law allows licensed AGSs to advertise and sell natural gas in these service territories, and sometimes AGSs are referred to as suppliers or alternative energy suppliers.

Most Michigan residents use natural gas to heat their homes, and some may use natural gas for cooking or powering backup generators. When it comes to paying for natural gas, your local utility, such as Consumers Energy Company or DTE, charges you for both the purchase of gas and the delivery of gas. If you choose to purchase gas from an AGS, your local utility company will still deliver the gas, read your meter, and bill you for the gas distribution costs. And your local utility company is still the point of contact if a natural gas emergency occurs.

Am I required to purchase natural gas from an AGS?

No. Purchasing natural gas from an AGS is completely voluntary.

Are AGS rates regulated?

No. AGS gas rates are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). As a result, make sure you understand the pricing and contract terms if you are looking at purchasing gas from an AGS. In comparison, gas rates set by your local utility company are regulated by the MPSC, and the Attorney General frequently intervenes in MPSC matters to ensure that your local utility is purchasing gas at the lowest possible rate.

If an AGS representative comes to my door, am I required to sign up for service?

No. AGS sign up is voluntary, and if you want to continue to purchase gas from your local utility, you can do so.

An AGS representative came to my door and asked to look at my bill and meter to calculate my potential savings. Am I required to provide them access to this information?

No, you are not required to provide any information to an AGS representative. You can refuse to provide them access to your meter or bill.

The AGS representative asked me to sign something. Am I required to sign anything?

No, you are not required to sign anything. However, if you are signing up for AGS service, you will likely be asked to sign a contract. Make sure you read and understand all the terms of the contract. If you want additional time, you can ask for the representative to leave a copy of the contract or see if they can email you a copy for your review at a later time. If you feel pressured into signing, ask that the representative leave. You can always recontact the AGS to sign up for service, or if you have additional questions.

Are AGSs required to be licensed by the MPSC?

Yes, all AGSs must be approved and licensed by the MPSC. If you come across a company that you believe is not licensed by the MPSC, you should not sign up for any purported service, and you should file a complaint with the MPSC online or via phone at 1-800-292-9555. More information about filing an MPSC complaint can be found on the MPSC Inquiries & Complaints webpage.

The AGS representative said I would save money, is this true?

Maybe. You should ask questions and be informed of how any purported savings are calculated. AGSs may advertise promotional or introductory pricing, which may expire after only a month or two of service. In addition, AGSs may have variable pricing, so the price may change based on a variety of factors. When you buy your natural gas through your local utility, that pricing is regulated by the MPSC, and your local utility does not make a profit on the sale of natural gas.

What information should I ask the AGS representative about?

If you are interested in AGS service, make sure you fully understand the identity of the AGS, the pricing, and all contract terms, including, but not limited to the following:

  • If they are licensed by the MPSC.
  • The details of how the AGS is calculating any purported savings.
  • The length of the contract, the per unit rate, and any fees.
  • Whether the pricing is a promotion or introductory price, and if so, for how long.
  • Whether the pricing is variable or fixed. If fixed, for how long.
  • How billing works, and who to contact if you have billing questions or concerns.
  • If you decide to switch AGSs or switch back to your local utility for the purchase of natural gas, how long that process will take and if there are any fees to switch.
  • The pricing and contract terms after the promotional terms expire.
  • If there are any contract cancellation fees, and how the cancellation process works.
  • If budget plan customers and those with past due balances are eligible.

If you want more time to think about whether to switch to an AGS, respectfully inform the representative of this, and ask them to leave. You should not feel pressured that you have to make a decision right in the moment.

Where can I find detailed information on AGSs, including their current rates?

Check out the MPSC’s Compare MI Gas webpage. You can compare AGS rates to your local utility rate and find out more information about AGSs.

I believe an AGS engaged in misleading or deceptive promotion and that lead me to sign a contract for AGS service, is this illegal? Where should I file a complaint?

Yes, this type of conduct is illegal. MCL 460.9(6) states that “[a]n alternative gas supplier or natural gas utility shall not solicit or enter into contracts subject to this section with customers in this state in a misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive manner.”

If this type of conduct occurs, you should file a complaint with the MPSC online or via phone at 1-800-292-9555. More information about filing an MPSC complaint can be found on the MPSC Inquiries & Complaints webpage.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions on AGS?

You can contact the MPSC by email, or by phone at 1-800-292-9555 or 517-284-8100. Additional contact options for the MPSC are available on its Contact Us webpage. You can also check out the MPSC’s consumer tip sheet (PDF) on AGSs, and its Compare MI Gas website. If you have questions about a particular AGS price or contract offering, you may want to reach out to the specific company.