Atmos Energy Corp. has asked the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to approve a decrease in the cost of natural gas to residential customers in the southwest corner of the state by 42 percent. The company is proposing a 43 percent decrease for commercial customers.
If approved, the decrease would take effect May 1, lowering the cost of gas to residential customers from $1.06 to 62 cents per 100 cubic feet. The commercial rate would drop from $1.03 to 59 cents. The rate would apply to about 15,000 customers in Southwest Colorado. Other Atmos service areas have different rates.
The rate change is scheduled to last three months because Atmos intends to file rate-change requests quarterly with the commission. It now files annually in October.
Atmos spokesman Kevin Kerrigan cited the continuing decline in the wholesale cost of natural gas for the rate-change request.
Atmos doesn't make money from the sale of gas but from delivering it and charging for maintenance of its distribution system, Kerrigan said. The commission regulates the cost of delivering gas.
The average monthly cost of gas to residential customers in 2008 was $77.78 and will be an estimated $49.14 this year. The corresponding cost to businesses was $411.83 last year and an estimated $245.13 this year, the statement said.
But the steep decline in the price of wholesale gas in the last nine months prompted the request to the commission, Kerrigan said. Quarterly changes would avoid precipitous changes, he said.
Atmos, headquartered in Dallas, is the nation's largest natural-gas deliverer, serving 3.2 million customers in 12 states, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the East to the Rocky Mountains in the West.