Atmos Energy Pushing Texas HB 651 Which Would Sidestep Muncipalities Oversight for the RRCSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Atmos Energy Pushing Texas HB 651 Which Would Sidestep Muncipalities Oversight for the RRC

24 January 2007 at 2:54:10 PM

Wrote about this before, was correct about the premise. Imagine that a gas company wants, for whatever reason but one good one might be to push rate increases, wants to side-step local municipal control and go to the RRC, which, as a rubberstamp agency, would pretty well give them what they want. After all, it's been more than a DECADE since the RRC has initiated a rate increase case against a gas company. That's what Atmos Energy wants.

Municipalities like Fort Worth would lose some of their policing powers over the local gas utility — a move that consumer groups say could lead to higher home heating bills — under legislation pending in the Texas House.

Under the bill, Atmos and other gas utilities could sidestep municipalities at the initial stage of rate cases and instead give “original jurisdiction” to the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, a historically pro-business agency.

Current law gives municipalities jurisdiction over rates, operations and services of any gas utility that operates within city limits. City councils can require gas utilities to open their books and justify their rates, and then order reductions if they don’t like what they find.

Utilities can then appeal those decisions to the Railroad Commission, and then eventually to district court.

But under HB 651, Atmos and other gas utilities would have the option of bypassing that initial jurisdiction of municipalities and instead let the Railroad Commission become the first arbiter of rates. The bill also would let utilities chose which municipal jurisdictions it wants to opt away from, and lets utilities opt back into municipal jurisdiction if they choose.

The article brings out a few other goodies. Let's not forget that Atmos was trying to pad its expenses as part of the justification to the RRC for a rate increase-oops, CAUGHT on that one because why should customers pay for those expensive limos? Or remember how Atmos was (and is) trying to pass on expenses they are supposed to pay re: pipe lines?

Anyway, they're trying to figure out how to soak it to customers and apparently the municipalites are just not bending over like the RRC will.

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