Dropping Temperatures and Rising Gas Bills? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/6/04

Dropping Temperatures and Rising Gas Bills?

As temperatures plummet across West Texas, most of us are cranking up the furnace. Which means your next gas bill could be higher, but the colder weather isn't all to blame. So, what can we expect for the duration of the cold weather season? Another factor in possible increased costs is Atmos Energy. The company is currently negotiating with the city to raise their rates.

Chances are you've heard this familiar sound today. The click of the furnace as it pumps out gas to heat your home. But Bill Guy with Atmos Energy, says come next month, this sound may cost you more money. "We hope to sit down with city council and reach an agreement as to what we could increase the rates up to 6%."

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Next month Atmos will ask the city council for a $3 million rate increase agreement. So what does that mean for you? If you pay about $50 a month for gas, the new 6% rate increase would make your bill about $53 a month or about $3 more than what you're paying now.

"The 6% rate increase is basically driven by the amount of pipes and services lines that we provide meters, regulators, and hardware that you have to put in the ground to serve customers," says Guy.

Guy says the increase depends greatly on gas prices. Last year, gas prices averaged about $4.20 per thousand cubic feet. In 2001 -2002, prices were about $3 per thousand cubic feet. And in 2000, prices topped out at $10 per thousand cubic feet.

Lubbock Mayor Marc McDougal says the 6%increase is only an estimation. City council will have to crunch some numbers before making any decision. "When you look at what they ask for, what they settle for in some of the other West Texas cities it was about half so whatever that number is we're looking at half that number and going from there," says Mayor McDougal.

Now here's a few ways Atmos suggests you can save a little money on your energy bills.

  • Insulate and weather strips your windows and doors.
  • Change your heating and cooling system filters on a regular basis.
  • A clean filter can reduce your bills by 5%.
  • Inspect your thermostat. An inaccurate thermostat that reads 68 when it is actually 72 will cost you money.
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