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SEMCO ENERGY Advises Consumers to Use Care When Making Energy Decisions

PORT HURON, Mich., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Growing competition in Michigan's energy marketplace presents both opportunities and questions. SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY urges consumers to review all factors used to project savings when selecting their natural gas supplier.

SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY, which was the first in Michigan to offer supplier choice to residential customers with a pilot program in Battle Creek, now has opened the Aggregated Transportation Service (ATS) program to its customers statewide. Enrollment, available to 7,000 customers in 1999, is on a first-come first-served basis.

"SEMCO ENERGY supports choice for consumers. However, some of the figures consumers are being quoted in regards to savings may be misleading," said Marketing Director Timothy J. Lubbers.

Some marketers are quoting projected savings based on consumers using 150 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) annually of natural gas, Lubbers said. SEMCO ENERGY residential customers use an average of 119 Mcf annually, he said.

"This means consumers should use the consumption data on their actual bill to verify savings claims," Lubbers said. "We encourage competition and want consumers to be aware of all the factors before making a choice they will have to live with for 12 months or longer."

Customers selecting a gas supplier other than SEMCO ENERGY are required to stay with that supplier for a minimum of 12 months.

Consumers also are encouraged to ask detailed questions about Gas Cost, Balancing Charges, Monthly Minimums, Minimum Contract Terms and Exit Fees as well as contract renewal terms when considering offers from gas marketers.

For example, SEMCO ENERGY will reduce its gas cost to all customers by almost 10 percent beginning in April with a guarantee not to raise that rate for three years, exclusive of government actions beyond Company control. The gas price, guaranteed not to exceed $3.24 includes a 25 cents balancing charge paid by all customers, regardless of their gas supplier.

The SEMCO ENERGY ATS program allows an additional 7,000 customers in regulated territories to enroll each year of the three-year program to a maximum of 21,000 in 2002.

In Battle Creek, where the program was piloted as Option Plus, enrollment is open to an additional 1,000 residential customers each year to a total of 4,000 in the final year of the program.

SEMCO ENERGY will continue to handle natural gas delivery and service work for customers opting for a third-party supplier.

The GAS COMPANY can provide a list of approved suppliers but cannot recommend one marketer over another.

SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY is local natural gas distribution company with about 240,000 customers in Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsulas. It is a subsidiary of SEMCO ENERGY, Inc. (Nasdaq: SMGS), which also owns SEMCO ENERGY SERVICES, an unregulated natural gas marketing division; and SEMCO ENERGY VENTURES, which acquires and operates companies involved in natural gas pipeline and distribution system engineering and construction as well as propane operations.
SOURCE SEMCO ENERGY, Inc.
CONTACT: Francis Lieder of SEMCO, 810-987-2200, ext. 4186, or fax, 810-989-4098

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding SEMCO Energy's business which are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report or Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year.

 
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