Not to be outdone by Mayor Nutter, Philadelphia City Council is hiring its own consultant to evaluate a potential sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works.

Council issued a request for proposals from an adviser Thursday to examine the impact of a proposed PGW sale, including its effect on the city's general fund, customer rates, customer service, employment, and public safety. The deadline for proposals is Jan. 15.

The Nutter administration, which has hired a team of legal, financial, and communications consultants to explore a sale of the municipal utility, is expected to select a bidder by early February. An unspecified number of finalists - their identities are a secret - will submit final proposals next month.

Council's proposal said its adviser must possess a "thorough knowledge of the natural gas industry."

The adviser's evaluation of the sale "shall include a listing and quantification of the financial and nonfinancial costs and benefits to the city, its taxpayers and PGW's customers, both short-term and long-term," from the proposed sale.

No budget is set forth for payment. Prospective advisers must include a "not-to-exceed" amount in their proposals.

Some Council members have not hidden their skepticism about a sale, which must be approved by Council and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

The city's financial adviser, Lazard Frères & Co., recently calculated that PGW could command a price ranging from $1.45 billion to $1.9 billion, resulting in net proceeds to the city between $422 million and $872 million. Nutter has proposed using the money to shore up the city's underfunded pension program.