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Committee OKs rate hike for Texas Gas Service

Thursday, May 21, 2015 by Jo Clifton

The City Council Public Utilities Committee on Wednesday voted 3-0 to recommend that Council approve an increase in customer rates for Texas Gas Service. According to documents provided to committee and Council Members Don Zimmerman, Ann Kitchen and Ellen Troxclair — Council Member Delia Garza is on maternity leave — residential customers will pay about $1.04 per month extra because of the increase. The total rate increase since 2009 has been $5.53 per month, or about $66 per year, for residential customers. Commercial customers will pay an extra $3.98 per month under the new rates, with a total rate increase of nearly $248 per year since 2009. Consumer advocate Paul Robbins, who was invited to speak to the committee, said, “It would be relevant to know how much of the $66 increase (for residential customers) could have been prevented if growth had paid for itself, and if Austin had not been subsidizing the service area outside of the city limits. My intuition is that it would be a large percent.” Robbins suggested that the Council members look ahead to Texas Gas Service’s next rate case, which is very likely to come during their terms of office. He suggested that they can lower rates in the future by insisting that the gas utility, like Austin’s water utility and Austin Energy, recover 100 percent of the cost of growth in the system. The full Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the rate request this afternoon. The committee also considered an ordinance to increase customer gas rates for Atmos Energy Corporation, Mid-Tex Division and unanimously voted to pass the item on to the full Council without a recommendation.

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