Lubbock Moves Forward With Plan to Reduce Gas Bill Costs - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/25/06

Lubbock Moves Forward With Plan to Reduce Gas Bill Costs

Lubbock city officials are taking the first steps toward change in your gas bills. Wednesday, they met face-to-face with the highest gas utility regulator in the State of Texas, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams. He is one of three commissioners who has control over what gas companies can and cannot do.

The meeting comes just two weeks after city council voted to consider creating a city-owned gas company to compete with Atmos energy.

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Councilmen Gary Boren, Tom Martin, Jim Gilbreath and six other city officials met with Williams to toss around concerns and idea. Boren told NewsChannel 11 that the group told Williams that gas prices are getting so high, that it is impacting the public. City officials asked Williams what he thought about Lubbock getting into the gas business. Williams said that Corpus Christi does it and so does San Antonio. He says competition is good and that it works to drive the cost down.

City officials also expressed their concerns of losing the capability of reviewing a gas company's rate increase requests. Boren says, as it stand now, the process is useless if the state can bulldoze a city's decision during a utility company's appeal hearing.

"What you'll see is that elected officials and public servants who have a responsibility in this area, all of us are concerned. Not only do utilities need to be able to generate the kinds of revenue they need to provide a reliable service to us, but also, that consumers are not overcharged and that is a concern for all the commissioners," said Williams.

Boren says meeting with Williams is one step in the right direction to bring change to the legislature. Boren wants the state to consider giving cities more local control.

The city's subcommittee is still exploring the possibility of having LP&L also provide gas utilities to Lubbock customers.

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