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The Los Alamos County Council gave the green light to an ordinance changing the gas rate structure from a fixed rate charge to a combination of a fixed rate for predictable costs with a variable rate based on the cost of natural gas. The ordinance also includes a five percent increase to cover rising costs. Councilors approved the new measure in a 6-0 vote Tuesday night.
“This is a benefit, we feel, to the consumers, because without that we have to build into our rates enough of a cushion to cover any potential gas rate increase, and the cost of natural gas is a fairly volatile commodity cost. It could fluctuate quite widely,” said Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt.
“So if we build in enough of a cushion to be sure we can cover the cost of natural gas that means more money coming out of the residents’ pockets into our coffers to support our natural gas bills, when we’d rather reflect the actual cost of gas in their rates.
“(If the cost of gas goes down) the customer sees that decrease immediately instead of a year or two later when we recognize that we need to lower the rates.”
The new rate structure will not affect residents on budget billing.
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