Atmos Energy files for Colorado Gas Cost Adjustment

Monthly bills could increase 3 percent for residential, commercial customers

Quotable...

“When the costs we pay for natural gas move upward we pass on those increases to our customers on their bills. Conversely, when the costs move downward we also pass those savings on to our customers.”

Karen Wilkes, vice-president of Regulatory affairs for Atmos Energy’s Colorado-Kansas Division, about a GCA request to the PUC to increase gas commodity costs

This week Atmos Energy Corp. became the second local utility provider in as many months to petition the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for a cost adjustment.

In September Xcel Energy filed for Quarterly Gas and Electric Commodity adjustments in an effort to drive down consumer costs during the fourth quarter.

Dallas-based Atmos Energy, on the other hand, filed for a GCA to reflect the corporation’s increased natural gas costs for its northwest and central Colorado customers.

To stay on pace with its own costs Atmos Energy’s GCA asks the PUC to approve a three percent rate hike on current residential and commercial gas commodities.

If approved by the PUC the increase would take effect Nov. 1 and result in residential commodity costs increasing from 59 cents per hundred cubic feet to 61 cents.

The commercial commodity cost would increase from 56 cents per ccf to 57 cents.

For the average consumer, the GCA equates to about a $1.18 monthly increase for residential customers and a $6.53 increase for businesses, according to a company news release.

But Atmos Energy does not make a profit on the cost of natural gas it distributes to its customers, the release states. The utility provider earns income through fees for delivering natural gas to customers and for maintaining utility distribution systems.

“When the costs we pay for natural gas move upward we pass on those increases to our customers on their bills,” said Karen Wilkes, vice-president of Regulatory affairs for Atmos Energy’s Colorado-Kansas Division, in the release. “Conversely, when the costs move downward we also pass those savings on to our customers.”

Though the cost of natural gas remains stable, Wilkes cited winter forecasts calling for colder temperatures this year over last as one of the reasons for GCA.

“Overall natural gas prices will still be lower than last heating season due to a reduction in gas costs that went in effect May 1st of this year,” she said in the release.

To offset the modest price increase Brian Martens, public affairs manager for Atmos Energy, said the company provides numerous energy savings tips on it web site, www.atmosenergy.com.

Atmos Energy also works closely with Energy Outreach Colorado and the federally funded Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, which provides assistance for low-income families.

For more information on energy assistance programs like LEAP, call 866-HEAT-HELP.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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