Atmos Energy customers will likely get a slight break on their winter bill, the company announced recently.
The company will ask the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 29 to decrease rates by 4 percent for residents and 5 percent for commercial customers effective Nov. 1.
For local customers, this translates into an average monthly bill of around $53 this winter, according to Atmos. Commercial customers can expect an average bill around $218.
“This is a reflection of the gas commodity, whether it goes up or down that gets passed to customers on a dollar-per-dollar basis,” said Terry Bote, a representative of the commission.
The adjustment comes after Atmos Energy increased rates by 12 percent in April.
Increasing prices in the spring was meant to help Atmos recover from last winter’s costs and mitigate hikes during the upcoming heating season, Atmos said in its application to the state at the time.
Declining bills are on par with the predicted national trend.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects average residential natural-gas bills to be 5 percent lower this winter compared with last.
The projections are even better for propane customers nationally. The administration expects spending on propane to fall 27 percent.
Forecasts for a relatively warm winter season are driving this projection. The Southwest, in particular, is expected to have a mild winter, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
However, John Felmy, a chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, cautions that a warm winter was predicted last year nationally as well.
But the polar vortex created strong demand for natural gas. National reserves for the commodity reached a 12-year-low at the end of the season, and reserves have not been completely built back up, Felmy said.
However, supply in the Southwest looks good and rates cannot be adjusted again until the winter season ends, he said.
The reserves for propane look much better than last year, he said. But it is an unregulated market, and propane customers are much more affected by short-term trends.