Monday, February 23, 2004
Natural gas consumers in Northwest Colorado can expect a 6 percent increase in rates beginning March 1.
Atmos Energy announced recently it has filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for permission to pass along to customers an increase in the wholesale price it pays for gas.
When annual natural gas bills are spread over 12 months, the increase translates into a monthly increase of $4.25. Atmos reported that the typical residential bill for gas will go from $83.18 to $87.39.
A typical gas bill for homes in Steamboat last month (including service fees) ranged from about $153 for a 1,400 square foot home to $170 for a 2,000 square foot home.
"When we lowered gas commodity rates last November, we knew there was a possibility that rates would have to be increased if gas commodity prices increased above our November projections during the winter months," said Joe Christian, an Atmos spokesman.
Atmos does not derive any profit from the gas commodity prices it passes along to consumers. The company lowered the rate by 1 percent Nov. 1, 2003.
The price increase would boost residential costs for natural gas from 71 cents per cubic foot to 76 cents per cubic foot. A year ago March 1, residential customers were paying 72 cents a cubic foot for natural gas.
Commercial natural gas users also are expected to see a 6 percent increase from 69 cents per cubic foot of gas to 74 cents per cubic foot.
The president of Atmos Energy's Colorado/Kansas Division said his company took a hit on the commodity rate during the winter.
"Our customers are charged, penny-for-penny, the same price for natural gas that we are charged," Garry Schlessman said. "This winter, as gas prices increased, we chose not to change our gas rates until the winter months were almost over. "However, the amount we were charging our customers was significantly less than what we had to pay."
Atmos, which serves 1.7 million utility customers in small to medium-size cities in 12 states, was able to declare a quarterly dividend of just more than 3 cents a share earlier this month.
-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205
or e-mail email@example.com