LUBBOCK, Texas — Atmos Energy incurred over $2.5 billion during the historic winter storm. Paying that off will likely come down to customers, although there is still a lot to be determined.
“There was a lack in some preparedness,” said Atmos Energy spokesperson Ed Espinoza.
As the demand for natural gas shot up during last month’s snowstorm, supply froze.
“What we did see through this winter storm was extreme high cost for natural gas,” said Espinoza.
Due to a lack of winterization at some facilities, gas was harder to access. That drove market prices through the roof. Atmos explained that market prices are determined by producers and suppliers. Since they are just a distribution company, this had a big impact on them.
“We are regulated,” said Espinoza. “But they, they on that higher level — producers, suppliers — are the ones that really look at the pricing and on their level, what they buy and how much they charge.”
Now, Atmos is determining how those costs could be passed down to customers — if at all.
“We are not passing that cost along to, to our customers,” said Espinoza. “We are working to find solutions to minimize that for our customers long term.”
Those solutions are currently being discussed at the Capitol between regulators and state legislators.
“This will be a top priority for all of our legislators to make sure that we find solutions,” said Espinoza.
Atmos said it would advocate to minimize the cost for customers.
“Securitization is a discussion that’s being talked about right now where we use bonds, you know, to finance storm-related costs,” said Espinoza.
In the near future, fixed rates will remain the same until plans are finalized.
“As of right now, in near term, no Atmos energy customer will be impacted,” said Espinoza. “Their bills in the next several months will be looking the same as it did before.”
Atmos also warns customers to be cautious of utility scams right now. They said if you get a call from anyone claiming to be them, call Atmos back directly to verify.