The City of El Paso is contesting the proposed rate increase and the consolidation of three service areas into one extensive service area by Texas Gas Service (TGS) that could result in an increase of more than $18 million for West Texas ratepayers, with the heaviest burden falling on El Paso residents.
“The City Council has directed staff to intercede for our region and prioritize our residents because the City is strongly opposed to the consolidation of the three service areas that will place the sole burden of the utility’s revenue shortages on El Paso’s residents,” said City Attorney Karla Nieman. “About 90 percent of the proposed increase by Texas Gas is billed to El Paso residents, which would place the largest burden on our residents while giving other service areas a reduction, which is not reasonable.”
TGS filed a rate increase application with the commission on June 30, to include a proposed consolidation of the West Texas Service Area (WTSA-El Paso) with the Borger/Skelly town Service Area (BSSA) and the North Texas Service Area (NTSA) which would lower natural gas rates for the BSSA and NTSA but increase the rates for the WTSA-El Paso.
According to the TGS filing, the average gas bill for small residential customers in El Paso could increase by about $4.39 a month—an increase of about 12.4%. The average gas bill for large residential customers in El Paso could increase by about $7.01 a month—an increase of about 13.7%. The customer size is related to the amount of natural gas consumed per month. Commercial customers in El Paso could see an increase of $10.46 a month—an increase of about 6 percent–but only if the utility is able to consolidate the utility’s three service areas.
The City has until Nov. 28 to act on TGS’s proposed increase, and the Railroad Commission has until Jan. 27 to rule on the case. The El Paso City Council will host a public meeting about the proposed increase during the regular City Council meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 at City Hall, 300 N. Campbell. The City Council has asked TGS representatives to attend the City’s public hearing.
Earlier this year, at the direction of the El Paso City Council, the City intervened and filed testimony against the rate increase and the proposed consolidation. An Administrative Law Judge, and two technical examiners, for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates natural gas utilities in Texas, heard the hearing on the merits earlier this month.