Consumer Services Blasts Questar's Green-Sticker Campaign

Consumer Services Blasts Questar's Green-Sticker Campaign

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state Committee of Consumer Services says Questar Gas Co.'s green-sticker campaign urging customers to have their appliances adjusted for an eventual change in gas composition does not provide any additional safety benefits and is wasting consumers' money.

Questar launched the program in 1998, saying it intended to eventually start providing natural gas of a different content to Wasatch Front customers.

It urged residents to have gas-burning appliances adjusted by a licensed heating contractor, who would place a green sticker on the appliance when he was done.

Questar said that without the adjustment, appliances could produce excess carbon monoxide.

Questar says the adjustment costs $75 to $125. Consumer Services puts it at $50 to $200.

"The committee remains unconvinced that Questar's green-sticker program offers any real safety assurance to customers," Reed Warnick, counsel for the committee, said Tuesday.

"And the committee is very concerned that Questar doesn't seem to know how many, or which, appliances need to be adjusted, or how many and which have been adjusted. The company doesn't appear to be adequately monitoring its own program."

Questar Gas spokesman Chad Jones said, "The committee's actions seem calculated to undermine the company's efforts to protect customer safety."

Barrie McKay, Questar's director of regulatory affairs, said Tuesday that, without the adjustment, carbon monoxide output levels can exceed national standards.

However, McKay acknowledged that if gas appliances were properly ventilated, the safety issue really didn't pose a problem. He also said appliances installed after May 1, 1998, did not need modification.

"Mr. McKay admitted today that many appliances don't need to be adjusted at all," Warnick said. "People are getting it done when they don't need to have it done."

Julie Orchard, a spokeswoman for the Utah Public Service Commission, said the commission believes the green-sticker program is important. "It is a public health and safety issue," she said.

A carbon dioxide processing plant near Price is currently removing excess carbon dioxide from coal-bed methane gas, allowing natural gas to burn better in appliances in Wasatch Front homes.

The plant has allowed Questar more time in implementing its green-sticker campaign. However, the Utah Supreme Court recently rejected the $25 million cost of the plant from being passed on to Questar's customers.

As of June 2003, 24 percent of Questar's customers reported their appliances had been adjusted, up from 13 percent in the first quarter of 2002, McKay said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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