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New York State Electric & Gas Corp. plans to conduct a pilot program that will allow customers in its Lockport division to choose their electricity supplier beginning in August, the utility said.

The pilot program will be one of two conducted by NYSEG as it moves toward allowing all of its customers to choose their electricity supplier by Aug. 1, 1999. The other pilot program will involve NYSEG's customers in the city of Norwich in Chenango County.

NYSEG's restructuring plan, which calls for a four-year rate freeze for residential and small commercial customers, followed by a 5 percent rate reduction during the fifth year of the plan, will be the subject of a public hearing conducted by the state Public Service Commission Thursday in the Niagara County Courthouse, 175 Hawley St., Lockport.

The PSC will hold a consumer education forum at 6 p.m. to explain the restructuring plan, which also includes a 25 percent rate cut for large industrial and commercial customers. The public hearing will begin at 7:15 p.m.

NYSEG's plan, which includes an auction of its fossil fuel-powered generating plants, also calls for splitting the company into separate generating and power distribution subsidiaries.

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