DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dozens of local communities are trying to prevent Atmos Energy from raising natural gas rates. But residents in Dallas are in for something different. The Dallas City Council voted on this issue on Wednesday, and they approved the rate hike.
Fort Worth officials voted unanimously against the increase on Tuesday, and a lot of other cities are also pushing back.
Atmos Energy is trying to replace and upgrade their old gas lines. Some of the work, in places like Cleburne, has been going on for months. But a coalition of smaller cities does not believe that the work costs what the gas company wants people to pay in a rate increase.
The new rates would raise more than $45 million for infrastructure. The average household bill would go up by around $2.00 each month, while businesses would see an increase of about $6.00 each month. But the coalition of Texas cities crunched the numbers themselves, and found that less than half of that amount of money would get the work done.
The group thinks that Atmos Energy needs no more than $19 million.
“We came to a standstill between Atmos and the coalition for smaller communities like ours,” explained Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain. “We needed to stand up and say, ‘No, we’re just not going to do that.'”
Ed Goodgion said that he can afford the increase, but is worried that it opens the door for other utilities to want more rate hikes. “You give them an out and they keep going and keep going and keep going,” Goodgion said. “It’ll never end.”
The coalition of smaller cities is voting separately than Dallas and Fort Worth. The Texas Railroad Commission will then make the final decision later. If approved, rates could go up as early as June.
Dallas city councilman Philip Kingston was among those who wanted to join the cities in saying no to Atmos Energy’s rate hikes. Kingston stated on Wednesday morning, “The reason I’m willing to take that risk is because I see all of our neighbors in this region denying Atmos rate increases and sending them onto the Railroad Commission. I think there could be a political change there.”
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