Arin McKenna/Monitor
Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt speaks to the board about gas rates July 20.
Gas rates likely to drop 10 percent

After last month’s news that the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities will consider a 10-percent water rate increase at its Aug. 17 meeting, there is some good news for customers. That increase is likely to be offset by a 10 percent rate reduction on their gas utility bills.
The board had a preliminary discussion about the proposed gas rate structure at its July 20 meeting.
Department of Public Utility (DPU) staff is recommending that the current rate structure be maintained, with a 20-percent reduction to the fixed cost portion of the bill.
The fixed cost recovery rate would be reduced from $0.29 to $0.23 per therm, which would result in a 10-percent reduction on the overall bill.
If future projections prove themselves out, customers will see another 10 percent reduction a year from now.
The rate reduction will serve to draw down a high cash balance in the gas fund. Staff policy is to maintain $2 million in reserve. The balance currently stands at $6 million.
“We’d start spending that cash reserve down until we identified through our cash policies what should our target level be. We intend to get to that through rate reductions as appropriate,” said Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt.