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Atmos sale could lead Gainesville to deregulate utility
City Council may ask state to give residents more choice in selecting provider
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Atmos Energy, the only natural gas provider for most of Gainesville, will sell its Georgia properties to Liberty Utilities.

Atmos Energy announced the sale of its natural gas distribution business in August and filed a joint application with the Georgia Public Service Commission for approval of the sale Sept. 18.

Gainesville City Council members may take the opportunity to ask state legislators to deregulate natural gas services in the city.

Georgia Public Service Commission currently lists Atmos Energy as Georgia’s only local distribution company.

Mayor Danny Dunagan said the city council has only started discussing whether to request deregulation.

He said now would be the time to ask since the company is switching over.

“I do know that in Hall County, you can choose your gas provider, and the city ought to have that choice, too. Competition breeds good prices,” Dunagan said.

He said the council would need to ask legislators before they go into session in January. He said the council has not spoken with Atmos Energy or Liberty Utilities about the subject.

Other areas, like parts of Atlanta, have been deregulated by the PSC.

Atmos has been the city’s provider since 2007 when it acquired United Cities Gas Co.

Joel Ames, a spokesperson for Atmos Energy, said the sale is expected to be completed by May 2013.

He said it will be a “relatively seamless transaction” for customers. All Georgia employees with Atmos will transfer over to the new company.

Customers will notice a new logo on their monthly bill and on service vehicles when sale is completed.

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