April 20, 2006
Gas Prices Up At Pump, Now Going Up At Home
Gas prices are going up. Is that really news? Everyone knows that prices at the pump are on the rise, but now the cost of natural gas is expected to rise for local customers.
Atmos Energy Corporation has filed a natural gas rate case with the Missouri Public Service Commission seeking to increase annual natural gas revenues by approximately $3.4 million. For the average residential customer using natural gas for heating, the proposed increase would be approximately $4.68 a month.
Atmos Energy Corporation (NYSE: ATO) said today that it will seek its first gas rate increase in Missouri in more than nine years because of increased operating costs and investments to maintain service reliability and safety for its customers.
“We have done everything we possibly can—installing new technologies, improving our work processes and controlling our operating costs—to keep rates down,” said John Paris, president of Atmos Energy’s Mid-States Division. “But, inflation during the period has been over 20 percent, and we no longer can put off asking for a moderate price increase.”
Atmos Energy Corporation provides natural gas service to approximately 59,800 natural gas customers in 25 Missouri counties (Bates, Clark, Lewis, Knox, Marion, Ralls, Scotland, Pike, Macon, Adair, Schuyler, Cass, Henry, St. Clair, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Ripley, Cape Girardeau, Dunklin, Scott, Iron, Wayne, Stoddard, Mississippi and Butler).
According to the company’s 2005 annual report, Atmos Energy’s gross profit in 2005 doubled to exceed $1 billion for the first time in the company’s history despite warmer-than-normal weather that reduced earnings and the ravages of two hurricanes that affected two-thirds of our Louisiana operations and a portion of our Mississippi territory.
Applications to intervene and participate in this case must be filed on or before May 9, 2006, with the Secretary of the Missouri Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102. Copies of the application should be sent to: James M. Fischer and Larry Dority, FISCHER & DORITY, P.C., 101 Madison Street, Suite 400, P.O. Box 456, Jefferson City, Missouri 65101; and the Office of the Public Counsel, P.O. Box 2230, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102.
The Office of the Public Counsel is a separate state agency, which represents the general public in matters before the Commission. Individual citizens wishing to comment should contact either the Office of the Public Counsel (P.O. Box 2230, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102, telephone 573-751-4857) or the Public Service Commission Staff (P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102, telephone 1-800-392-4211).
The Public Service Commission will begin hearings on November 30, 2006. These hearings, to be held in Room 310 of the Governor’s Office Building in Jefferson City, will continue through December 8, 2006, if necessary.
The Public Service Commission will conduct local public hearings seeking customer comment on the rate request. Dates, times and locations will be announced at a later date.
“Atmos Energy has invested approximately $22 million in its Missouri gas delivery system over the past nine years,” said Pat Childers, vice president, rates and regulatory affairs, for the division. The utility operates nearly 2,130 miles of transmission and distribution lines in Missouri .
“We are asking the PSC to review the filing and approve a rate structure that will enable Atmos Energy to continue to provide the excellent service that our customers have come to expect from us,” Childers said.
Atmos Energy plans to conduct public meetings on the rate change in its Missouri service areas, to provide information to customers and answer questions. A date and location for those meetings will be announced in the near future.
Atmos Energy Corporation, headquartered in Dallas, is the country’s largest natural gas-only distributor, serving about 3.2 million gas utility customers. Atmos Energy’s utility operations serve more than 1,500 communities in 12 states. Atmos Energy’s nonutility operations, organized under Atmos Energy Holdings, Inc., operate in 22 states. They provide natural gas marketing and procurement services to industrial, commercial and municipal customers and manage company-owned natural gas pipeline and storage assets, including one of the largest intrastate natural gas pipeline systems in Texas.