Residential gas bills set to rise by 18% next month in Southwest Colorado – The Durango Herald

Commercial bills will increase by 22%

Jeremy Hamilton with Atmos Energy conducts a shut-in test for gas leaks that occurred in late October at the Hillcrest Apartments on Goeglein Gulch Road. Atmos has requested an 18% rate increase for residents in Southwest Colorado. (Durango Herald file)

Atmos Energy Corp. issued a notice of change in gas tariffs that the company has submitted to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for approval.

The change, if approved, would increase residential and commercial rates by 18% and 22%, respectively, and would take effect Oct. 1.

The notice contains present and proposed natural gas rates should the proposal be accepted by the utilities commission. Residential gas rates are now 59 cents per 100 cubic feet, and the average monthly bill is $48.01. The rate increase would bump up the Ccf to 69 cents and lead to a projected average monthly bill of $54.35.

Commercial gas rates, which are currently priced at 48 cents per Ccf, would climb to 58 cents. Average monthly bills for commercial entities are projected to hit $220.37.

Atmos Energy said in the notice that the proposed change in tariffs is an adjustment to rates charged to Atmos Energy by its natural gas suppliers.

Jennifer Altieri, vice president of public affairs at Atmos Energy, told The Durango Herald in an email that the gas cost adjustment set to take effect Oct. 1 is a “pass through cost” to the company’s customers from its suppliers.

“We do not make a profit on the sale of the commodity (natural gas),” Altieri said. “Our business is the distribution of natural gas. The reason for the increase has to do with the volatility of the wholesale natural gas market due to supply and demand.”

Another charge, the Energy Assistance System Benefit Charge, is also set to take effect Oct. 1. That adjusted cost is attributable to legislation passed in July. Customers can opt out of the EASBC rate adjustment by contacting Atmos Energy’s call center at (888) 286-6700.

As of Oct. 1, the rate will be 50 cents per Ccf, and in 2022 it will rise to 75 cents.

“Currently, the average monthly bill for residential customers living in our southwest division of Colorado (which includes Durango) is $48.01,” Altieri said. “Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, the average monthly bill will increase to $48.51.”

Altieri said that financial assistance is available through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and Energy Outreach Colorado, even if customers did not qualify in the past. Customers can reach those entities by calling (866) 432-8435.

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