The following definitions will be referred to in the FAQ section below. For further information regarding the program please see the Choice Program Information Sheet.
Choice Gas Program – Refers to the Nebraska Consumer Choice Gas Program, which allows customers residing within the Black Hills Gas Rate Area 5 service territory to choose an independent natural gas suppliers to provide them with the natural gas commodity.
Supplier – Natural gas suppliers participating in the Choice Gas Program must be Certified Natural Gas Providers (CNGPs), meeting qualification standards of the PSC; sometimes referred to as Marketers.
Utility/Local Distribution Company – Black Hills Energy is the local utility that physically delivers the gas to your home or business, reads your meter, sends customer bills, and maintains the natural gas delivery network. In the event of emergency call Black Hills at 1-888-890-5554 NOT your supplier.
Choice Administrator – Black Hills Energy, as the owner and operator of the natural gas network, oversees and supervises the Choice Program.
Selection Period – The dedicated period during which eligible customers may choose a natural gas supplier; sometimes referred to as the Open Enrollment Period.
Marketing Period – The period beginning with the Selection Period when suppliers may market to Choice customers regarding their offering for the upcoming Choice Gas Program year.
What is the Choice Gas Program?
The Nebraska Choice Gas Program allows Black Hills Energy natural gas customers residing in Rate Area 5 to shop for natural gas for their home or business from a diverse market of alternative competitive natural gas providers. The natural gas will still be physically delivered to each customer property by the distribution system of Black Hills Energy; customers simply choose an alternative supplier from whom to purchase the natural gas commodity.
What is a Competitive Natural Gas Provider (CNGP)?
A CNGP is a third-party natural gas supplier, separate from your local gas utility company, licensed by the Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC), who sells natural gas at unregulated rates to customers located in certain areas of Nebraska.
What is Black Hills Energy’s role in the Choice Gas Program?
Black Hills Energy manages the natural gas network, and therefore administers the Choice Gas Program. Black Hills Energy will still be your local utility regardless of which CNGP you choose. Black Hills will continue to physically deliver the natural gas to your home or business, read your meter, bill your account, and handle emergencies. Black Hills Energy, as the local distribution utility, will continue to charge you for delivery and customer charges at the regulated rates.
Is every Nebraska natural gas consumer eligible to participate in the Choice Gas Program?
No. Only those customers served by Black Hills Energy in Rate Area 5, the territory formerly served by SourceGas and KinderMorgan. Customers of Black Hills Energy in eastern Nebraska, NorthWestern Energy customers, and municipally owned utility customers are not eligible to participate in the Choice Gas Program. If you are unsure if you are eligible to participate in the Choice Gas Program, please contact Black Hills Energy at 1-877-245-3506.
Does the gas provided differ from supplier to supplier?
No. The natural gas that you receive at your home or business meets the same quality standard regardless of from which CNGP you choose to purchase it from.
Does my utility, Black Hills Energy, allow me to purchase natural gas directly from them?
No. Customers that reside in the Choice Gas Program service area (Rate Area 5) do not have the option of purchasing the natural gas commodity from Black Hills Energy.
One of the listed CNGPs is Black Hills Energy Services (BHES). Is that my utility?
No. BHES is a licensed CNGP owned by the same parent company as Black Hills Energy. However, BHES is completely separate and distinct from Black Hills Energy.
Will I get better service from Black Hills Energy if I choose BHES?
No. As the administrator of the Choice Gas Program, Black Hills Energy is expressly prohibited from giving any advantage or preference to any CNGP affiliated with its parent company or its customers. Black Hills Energy provides the same level of service to each customer regardless of the CNGP that supplies the customer’s natural gas.
When do I have to make a selection?
There is a set Selection Period in the spring of each year for each eligible customer to make a selection. The 2023 Selection Period for residential and commercial customers begins April 6 and ends on April 26. The dates will vary slightly every year. The Selection Period for agricultural customers is in February. You will receive a packet of information from Black Hills Energy prior to the beginning of the Selection Period that will include information on all the participating CNGPs and all relevant dates, deadlines, and instructions.
Will CNGPs reach out to me about their services?
Yes. CNGPs may market to eligible Choice Gas Program customers, however, they are required to wait until the Selection Period begins to begin marketing activities. Allowable marketing activities include mailings and telephone calls.
How can I tell if a company that contacts me is a legitimate CNGP?
All CNGPs are required to be licensed by the NPSC. In order to receive a license from the NPSC, the supplier must meet certain necessary financial, managerial, and technical capabilities. To find out if a company is licensed with the NPSC, check out the NPSC’s list of participating CNGPs.
Do I have to choose a CNGP to supply my natural gas?
No. If you do not make a selection, you will be assigned a supplier or will default to the last supplier you selected. You will be assigned a price after the selection period has ended.
Why should I make a choice?
While you are not required to make a selection, the program gives customers the ability to consider their options and make a selection right for them rather than being assigned a supplier and price.
If I choose a CNGP will I save money?
Not necessarily. However, if you make a selection you will most likely get a better price than if you don’t make a selection and are assigned a supplier and price.
Once I make a selection, do I have to stay with that CNGP?
Yes, you remain with the CNGP you selected for at least one year. Each year you are free to make a different selection, or choose the same CNGP again. If you chose a multi-year plan, you will be with that CNGP for the period of the contract.
Why would a customer change their CNGP?
Customers decide to switch or stay with a CNGP for a variety of reasons. They might get a better rate with a different supplier or different CNGPs may offer different kinds of plans including fixed rate plans that allow customers to lock in a defined unit price for a defined period of time. Some CNGPs offer multiple year contracts, or other incentives.
Are CNGP’s rates regulated and approved by the NPSC?
No. The prices offered by CNGPs are not regulated or approved by the NPSC.
Are the delivery rates charged by Black Hills Energy regulated and approved by the NPSC?
Yes. Natural gas delivery rates and fixed customers charges are regulated and approved by the NPSC.
Who will deliver my gas and bill me?
Black Hills Energy will continue to physically deliver the natural gas to your home or business, read your meter, and bill you. This remains the same regardless of your selection of CNGP.
Who do I call in case of emergency, if I smell gas, or if there is a problem with my service?
In the event of emergency, interruption of service, or any other gas related issue, call your utility, Black Hills Energy at 1-888-890-5554. Do not call your supplier.