Utilities Board Approves Gas Rate Restructure

Robert Westervelt, Deputy Utility Manager – Finance & Administration

Staff Report:

A natural gas rate restructure proposal was approved Wednesday evening by the Board of Public Utilities.

The Los Alamos County Council must now approve the proposal and is scheduled to hear details about the restructure in August. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal before the Council takes a vote.

Deputy Utility Manager Robert Westervelt presented the restructuring proposal to the Utilities Board Wednesday. It includes a “pass-through” rate component. This component will be derived from an index rate, such as the San Juan Index, plus other costs like transportation fees – and it will feed into a monthly Gas Consumption Charge that will vary each month.

Wednesday’s vote was unanamous with all board members present including Chair David Powell, Vice-Chair Timothy Neal, Kevin Anderson, Chris Ortega and Stephen Tenbrink.

The proposed restructured gas rate includes a Fixed Service Charge and a Variable Gas Consumption Charge.

The Department of Public Utilities proposed the new rate structure “to better align customer billings with cost drivers for the natural gas production and distribution system.”
The Ordinance No. 02-232 is available at: http://www.losalamosnm.us/utilities/DPUDocuments/DPU_PO130813GasOrd02-232.pdf

Gas Rate Restructure Summary:

Service Charge for All Customer Classes (fixed)

  • $9.50 per month/per meter rated less than 250 cubic feet per hour
  • $28.50 per month/per meter rated greater than 250 cubic feet per hour

Gas Consumption Charge for Residential & Commercial Customers (variable)

  • Fixed component: $0.29 per therm
  • Variable component: Shall be calculated each month based on the projected cost of gas for the billing month (using an index such as the San Juan Index) plus an adjustment for any prior over- or under-collection for gas purchases and/or gas transportation costs.

Gas Consumption Charge for Schools and County (variable)

  • Fixed component: $0.25 per therm
  • Variable component: Shall be calculated each month based on the projected cost of gas for the billing month (using an index such as the San Juan Index) plus an adjustment for any prior over- or under-collection for gas purchases and/or gas transportation costs.

Related links:

DPU’s Rate Sheet for Existing Natural Gas, Electricity, Water and Wastewater rates showing all customer classes – http://www.losalamosnm.us/utilities/DPUDocuments/DPU_MIS_UtilityRateSheet.pdf

DPU’s ordinances website – http://www.losalamosnm.us/utilities/Pages/Ordinances.aspx

United States Energy Information Administration on Natural Gas – http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/.

The DPU operates the county-owned electric, gas, water & wastewater systems under the jurisdiction of the Board of Public Utilities. The DPU is funded by rates paid for electric, gas, water and wastewater services and auxiliary fees, and has provided the community with these services for more than 40 years. 

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