Half-million customers choose suppliers through Dominion East Ohio's 'Energy Choice' program

CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 4, 2001--More than 500,000 Dominion East Ohio customers have opted to purchase natural gas from alternative suppliers, realizing $29.5 million in savings since last fall's system-wide Energy Choice program expansion, company officials report.

Dominion East Ohio reports that, as of the end of February, the most recent month for which the company has complete statistics, 500,197, or 42 percent of the company's 1.2 million customers, had chosen to buy natural gas from participating Energy Choice suppliers.

In December of last year, the month in which many received their first bills from Energy Choice suppliers, participating customers saved $4.2 million over what they would have paid had they remained Dominion East sales customers. Energy Choice customer savings increased to $6.9 million in January of this year and to an additional $18.4 million in February, after the company's Gas Cost Recovery (GCR) the price charged to sales customers, rose from $7.17 to $8.70 per thousand cubit feet (MCF).

Dominion East Ohio expects even more customers to participate in Energy Choice in the coming months. Under Energy Choice, participating customers may choose to purchase natural gas from approved suppliers, while relying on Dominion East Ohio to continue delivering that gas to their homes or businesses. These customers also have the option of continuing to buy natural gas supplies from Dominion East Ohio at the current GCR of $8.699 per MCF.

Natural gas commodity costs, the portion of the bill opened to competition via Energy Choice, account for three-fourths of a customer's total bill. Dominion East Ohio does not earn a profit on these natural gas costs, which it passes directly to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Thus, the company passes along any gas cost increases or savings directly to sales customers. As natural gas prices have risen sharply on the national market, Dominion East Ohio's Energy Choice program has generated extensive interest among customers seeking potential savings over the company's regulated price of gas for sales customers. By locking in the price over a longer term, suppliers and their customers can save money compared to Dominion East Ohio's GCR, which changes every three months.

Dominion East Ohio encourages customers to explore their options under Energy Choice. There is no deadline for choosing a different supplier. Energy Choice is an ongoing program. However, some suppliers may have deadlines for particular prices or offers.

Customers can receive information, such as the ``Apples to Apples'' chart, which provides information on participating Energy Choice suppliers and their current offers and prices, by calling the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's toll-free Gas Choice Infoline at 1-800-299-7271 or visiting their website at www.puc.state.oh.us . Residential customers can direct questions and receive free Energy Choice information by contacting the Ohio Consumer's Counsel, toll-free, at 1-877-742-5622 or visit their website at www.state.oh.us/cons .

To enroll in the Energy Choice program, customers must contact a supplier directly. The supplier then will officially notify Dominion East Ohio. Under rules of the program, developed jointly by Dominion East Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, Dominion East Ohio cannot recommend a supplier or sign up customers for any supplier. The change of suppliers becomes effective approximately 60 days after sign up. This time period gives suppliers the time they need to secure gas supplies on behalf of their new customers.

Dominion, headquartered in Richmond, Va., is one of the nation's largest producers of energy, with a production capability of 2.7 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy per day. Dominion has the largest BTU production capability among integrated utilities in the northeast quadrant of the United States. The company has a power generation portfolio of more than 19,000 megawatts, which is expected to grow to more than 28,000 megawatts by 2005. Dominion is also one of the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in North America, with 2.8 trillion cubic feet of equivalent reserves. The company has 7,600 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline with more than 650 billion cubic feet of annual natural gas throughput and a delivery capability of 6.3 billion cubic feet per day. In addition, the company operates the nation's largest underground natural gas storage system, with over 950 billion cubic feet of storage capacity. Dominion also serves 3.8 million retail natural gas and electric customers, and owns a telecommunications business that is expanding its fiber-optic network from its current 35,000 miles to more than 700,000 miles. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's web site at www.dom.com.

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