How Texas Allows Gas Utilities to Hit Consumers With a Parade of Under-the-radar Rate Hikes

If you are wondering why your natural gas bill isn't going down despite record low natural gas prices, look to a longstanding loophole in state law. In 2003, the Texas Legislature created the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program to allow regulated gas utilities like Atmos in North Texas and CenterPoint in the Houston area to raise rates for capital spending increases without a traditional rate hearing. Lawmakers and company officials defended the streamlined process as an opportunity for natural gas utilities to recoup their investments for replacing aging pipelines and making other improvements.This program, however, amounts to a license to skirt serious regulatory oversight and hit consumers with a steady parade of under-the-radar rate increases. The rates the utilities charge to deliver gas to homes and businesses are set by state regulators through thorough reviews every few years. Every home gas utility bill includes these regulated pipeline and distribution charges, along with a charge reflecting natural gas costs.  Continue reading...

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