LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - While ERCOT is catching most of the heat over last week’s cold snap, another culprit has gone almost unnoticed: natural gas distributor Atmos Energy.
Atmos Energy failed to adequately winterize its system and protect its integrity at the time of greatest need. This forced some power plants to reduce production when full capacity was needed. And it contributed to the near collapse of the ERCOT grid.
But much closer to home we saw the devastating effects of Atmos Energy’s shortages. In Littlefield, a milk processing plant was shut down seven days even after agreeing to one thousand percent rate hikes. The wasted milk cost producers tens of millions of dollars, all because Atmos refused to provide the fuel necessary to operate. And they are not the only business Atmos asked to shut down.
That’s inexcusable and outrageous. Because Atmos failed to plan our local businesses and even our food supply was threatened.
Meanwhile, last fall Atmos Energy asked for a rate hike.
Consider this ... just like ERCOT, lawmakers, and specifically our city council members who approved the franchise and negotiate the rates, need to start asking hard questions about the infrastructure and stability of our local natural gas supply. These tragedies must not be repeated and I want to hear how Atmos Energy is going to be held accountable.
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‘Consider This’ is a commentary by KCBD Vice-President and General Manager Dan Jackson.