Actual Reading - The reading from your gas meter.

Adjusted or Corrected Reading - An amount shown on the bill to correct too much or not enough gas use from a prior reading.

Affiliate - A company that is controlled by another or has the same owner as another company.

Aggregation - A group that buys natural gas to obtain lower prices for a number of customers.

Aggregator or Market Aggregator - A natural gas supplier that plans for natural gas supply services to a group of customers in a single buying unit.

Alternate Fuel Capability (Alternate Energy Capability) - Meeting energy needs with an energy source other than natural gas.


Balancing - The amount of natural gas a Natural Gas Distribution Company (NGDC) receives for delivery to a customer or customer group and the amount of gas that customer or group uses.

Base Load - The minimum energy level a company must provide to its customers on a constant basis.

Basic Services - Services necessary for the physical delivery of natural gas to a retail customer, consisting of natural gas distribution services and natural gas supply services.

Broker - A firm, licensed by the Commission, that acts as an agent in the sale and purchases of natural gas but never owns the natural gas and typically does not own supply facilities.

BTU - British Thermal Unit is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Budget Billing - Many suppliers offer budget billing, which allows you to pay a fixed amount each month. Budget billing averages bills out over 12 months, so each monthly bill will be the same amount until the total bill is paid. The company may adjust the bill four times a year, up or down, depending on the customer's use. Residential customers may contact their gas utility and/or supplier and request budget billing at any time.

Bundled Pricing - Two or more services offered at a single price.

Burner Tip - The point at which natural gas is used, such as a furnace, water heater or range.


Cancellation Provisions - A contract clause allowing a party to break a contract, usually with a penalty.

Capacity - The amount of natural gas transported within a specific period of time. The physical limits of a gas transportation system determines capacity. On the interstate transportation system, physical capacity is often divided among several parties, each party holding a contract for a specific quantity.

Centum Cubic Feet (Ccf) - A standard measure of gas usage, equaling 100 cubic feet of gas.

Chapter 14 - Section of the Public Utility Code containing rules that apply to cash deposits; reconnection of service; termination of service; payment arrangements; and the filing of termination complaints by consumers for electric, gas and water. Chapter 14 is intended to protect responsible bill-paying customers from rate increases attributable to the uncollectible accounts of customers that can afford to pay their bills, but choose not to pay. Under the law, a customer can only establish one payment arrangement with the PUC. The utility has the discretion to offer more than one payment arrangement.

Chapter 56 - The PUC regulations that govern metering, billing and collections for residential gas and electricity service.

City Gate - The point where interstate pipelines deliver gas into NGDC facilities.

Commission - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is the state regulatory agency that provides oversight, policy guidance and direction to public utilities. The PUC licenses natural gas suppliers but does not otherwise oversee or regulate suppliers. Find more information about the Public Utility Commission.

Commodity - Natural gas sold either by volume or heating value.

Commodity Charges - The charges for basic gas supply service which is sold either by volume (Ccf or Mcf) or heating value (Dekatherms).

Consumer Contract - A written statement of the terms of service between a customer and a natural gas supplier.

Consumer Education - Efforts to provide consumers with the skills, knowledge and understanding to shop effectively in the competitive natural gas market.

Contract Cancellation Provision - A contract clause allowing a party to break a contract, usually with a penalty.

Customer Assistance Program (CAP) - A payment program for low income people who have trouble paying their bills. This payment program is set up between a utility company and the customer. It allows the customer to pay a percent of the bill they owe or to pay a percent of their income instead of paying the actual bill each month. When an agreement is made, the customer must make regular monthly payments based on their new payment plan.

Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Program (CARES) - Helps customers with special needs find ways to pay their utility bills. Special needs include family emergencies, divorce, unemployment, or medical emergencies.

Customer Charge - A monthly charge to cover NGDC costs such as maintaining the gas lines, meter reading and billing.

Customer Choice - Customers and sellers can deal directly with each other for natural gas supplies, which are transported through NGDCs’pipes to the consumer.

Customer Classes - The classes of natural gas customers are residential, commercial and industrial.

Customer Reading - An actual meter reading made by the customer that is given to the NGDC.


Dekatherm (Dth) - A measure of the heat content value of gas, equal to 10 terms or one million BTUs. Gas usage is determined by multiplying the Mcf used by the heat content value of the gas.

Deregulation - Removal or change in regulations or controls governing a business or service operation such as a utility.

Disclosure Statement - A document contained within a customer’s contract with a natural gas supplier that outlines specific terms and conditions that govern the relationship between the customer and the natural gas supplier for a specified length of time.

Discounts Available - A company may offer discounts to some customers, i.e. new customers, military, and senior citizens. These discounts are not required and will vary from supplier and supplier. Natural gas shoppers should check with the respective supplier(s) for further information.

Distribution - The delivery of natural gas from the city gate to the consumer.

Distribution Charges - The charges for the delivery of natural gas from the point of receipt into the NGDC’s system.


End-User - The natural gas consumer.

Energy Conservation - To reduce or manage energy consumption in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner.

Energy Services Company (ESCO) - A company offering specialized or customized energy services by providing advice and products to reduce customer consumption and bills.

Estimated Reading - During months when the NGDC does not read the customer’s meter, the bill is based on previous gas usage, gas rates and the weather.


Firm Service - Natural gas service offered to consumers specified in tariffs or contracts that anticipate no interruption.

Fixed Price - An all-inclusive per Ccf/Mcf/Dth price that will remain the same for at least three billing cycles or the term of the contract, whichever is longer.  A fixed price will remain the same, usually for a set period of time. This will give you certainty that your price will not change during the term of the agreement. However, if market prices fall you may have to wait until your contract expires to get a lower price.

Flat Rate - A fixed charge for goods and services that does not vary with changes in the amount used, volume consumed, or units purchased.

Formal Complaint - A written dispute or disagreement about a utility problem filed by a consumer with the PUC. A formal complaint is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who may hold hearings to develop a record.


Gas Cost Adjustment Charges - The amount billed or credited each month to account for differences between projected and actual gas supply costs of the natural gas distribution company.

Gas Procurement Charge (GPC) - An element of the price to compare, expressed on a per Mcf or Dth basis, that reflects a NGDC’s natural gas procurement costs.  The GPC is removed from the NGDC’s base rate and recovered through a separate charge.


Hardship Funds - Provides cash assistance to utility customers to help them pay their utility bills. Hardship funds provide assistance grants to customers who cannot qualify for other financial assistance programs, or to those who still have a critical need for assistance when there are no other resources. The funds make payments directly to companies on behalf of eligible customers. Contact your utility for more information.


Informal Complaint - A dispute or disagreement about a utility problem filed by a consumer with the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS). A BCS investigator reviews the informal complaint and provides the customer with a response to their dispute.

Interruptible Service - Natural gas services that can be interrupted under terms and conditions specified by tariff or contract.

Interstate Transportation System - Federally regulated, large capacity pipelines that transport natural gas across state lines from points of production to NGDCs’ city gates.


Late Payment Charge - A charge for any bill not paid by the due date.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - A federally funded program, administered by the state to assist low income utility customers to pay for energy services.

Low Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) - Helps low-income residential customers lower the amount of energy used each month. Typically, the company may install energy saving features or make energy efficiency improvements in customers' homes to help reduce bills. Contact your electric utility for more information.


Marketer or Broker - An individual or business, licensed by the PUC that sells or arranges to sell natural gas. The difference between marketers and brokers is that marketers own the gas they sell, while brokers do not.

Mcf - An abbreviation denoting 1,000 cubic feet of gas. This is a measure of gas usage.

Merchant Function Charge (MFC) - An element of the price to compare, expressed on a per Mcf or Dth basis, that reflects the cost of uncollectibles associated with an NGDC's natural gas costs.

Migration Rider - A mechanism permissible by law, which allows natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs) the option to charge default service customers a fee for 12 months after the customer enrolls with a natural gas supplier (NGS). The migration rider is a “true-up” for gas purchased by the NGDC — on behalf of the customer — for the 12-month period prior to switching to an alternative NGS. The fee will apply for a 12-month period, and then be eliminated.


Natural Gas Distribution Company (NGDC) - A state regulated natural gas utility which owns the gas lines and equipment necessary to deliver natural gas to the consumer (Formerly called local distribution company).

Natural Gas Supplier (NGS) - An entity that sells or arranges to sell natural gas to customers that is delivered through the distribution lines of an NGDC.

Non-basic Services - Optional services which are separate and not required for the physical delivery of natural gas service.


Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) - A state agency that represents the interest of residential utility consumers before the PUC. This includes rate and service cases before other state and federal regulatory agencies and courts.

Office of Small Business Advocate (OSBA) - A state agency that represents the interest of small business consumers. They participate in PUC rate cases and other state and federal regulatory cases.

Open Market - Competition among natural gas suppliers is allowed.

Options Notice - Suppliers send out an options notice at least 60 days prior to the contract’s expiration date. This notice includes the specific changes to the terms of service being proposed; information on new prices; an explanation of the customer’s options and how to exercise those options; the date by which the customer must exercise one of the options; the telephone numbers and website addresses for the Commission and the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA); and the natural gas distribution company's Price to Compare.


Penalty Provisions - A contract clause allowing a party to break a contract, usually with a penalty.

Price Cap - A level above which regulated prices may not rise.

Price to Compare - The dollar amount charged by the NGDC used by consumers to compare prices and potential savings with other natural gas suppliers.

Price Plan - Before entering into a contract, natural gas shoppers should know if the price per Ccf, Mcf or Dth/Therm is "fixed"" or "variable".

Public Input Hearings - Meetings where consumers provide input to the PUC. This is in the form of sworn or unsworn testimony, often before a PUC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Public Meeting - Meeting, open to the public, where the PUC Commissioners vote on all rate case filings and other official PUC business.

Public Utility Code - The law, which sets the powers and duties of the PUC. It also sets many of the guidelines the PUC uses for utilities’ rates and service standards.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) - The State regulatory agency that provides oversight, policy guidance, and direction to public utilities and suppliers.


Renewal Notice - Suppliers send out an initial renewal notice 90 days prior to the contract’s expiration date as a reminder that the contract is near the end date.

Restructuring - The reorganization of traditional natural gas service to allow operations and charges to be separated or "unbundled,” permitting customers to buy natural gas from competing suppliers.


Service Reliability - A guarantee that the NGDC will deliver sufficient natural gas to satisfy customer consumption specified in tariffs and contracts.

State Tax Adjustment Surcharge - A surcharge on gas rates charged to customers, which permit NGDC's to track changes to various state taxes.

Storage - Placing natural gas into an underground facility for removal and use at a later date.


Terms of Service - Content of the agreement between a customer and a supplier.

Therms - A unit of heat equal to 100,000 British thermal units. Ten (10) Therms are equal to 1 Dekatherm.  It is approximately the energy equivalent of burning 100 cubic feet (often referred to as 1 Ccf) of natural gas.

Title 52 - The section of the Pennsylvania Code that governs utilities.

Transmission - The moving of natural gas through the interstate pipeline system for delivery to the NGDC.


Unbundling - Breaking down services and/or rates that are offered into parts so each part is billed separately.

Universal Service - Policies, protections and services that help low-income customers maintain electric service.

Unlimited Usage Flat Bill - A plan that is a locked-in monthly price that is not based on Ccf/Mcf/Therms usage. This gives consumer unlimited natural gas usage at one steady rate that cannot change during the contract’s term. See “Flat Rate” for additional information.

Utility Competition - Two or more natural gas suppliers offering the same or similar goods or services in the same market place.


Variable Price - An all-inclusive per Ccf/Mcf/Dth price that can change, by the hour, day, month, etc., according to the terms and conditions in the supplier’s disclosure statement. If you select a variable rate, the rate may change with market conditions. So if market prices increase, your rate may increase. If market prices drop, your rate may decrease.


Weatherization - Modifying a home or building to conserve energy. Methods include: sealing windows and doorframes with caulking or gaskets, installing storm doors and windows, and adding or increasing the insulation value.

Weatherization Assistance Program - Enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Pennsylvania's Weatherization Assistance Program is administered through the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Wholesale Competition - A market where wholesale buyers can choose their natural gas suppliers. Wholesale buyers, such as investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, cooperatives and other energy suppliers, resell the gas product(s) to retail customers.