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Historic freeze to push Las Cruces gas bills higher

LAS CRUCES — Las Cruces utility customers will begin to pay more for natural gas when they receive their bills this month. The increase, which is planned to span over the next two to three years, comes from the need to recover costs incurred during the “historic arctic freeze” which occurred in the southwest in mid-February.

In a news release Tuesday, the city-owned Las Cruces Utilities said while the cold snap disrupted gas supplies across the region, the only effect the storm had on the city’s utilities was an increase in the gas commodity cost. The weather didn’t cause LCU customers to experience the same types of extended power outages which affected Texas residents.

Permian Basin gas production was impacted by the cold weather, disrupting the supply chain and causing market prices to go up, the city utility said.

LCU said it will spread the “incremental cost increase” across the next 24 to 36 months. It said the April billing cycle will be the first affected, but that increases will show up for natural gas customers each month until the city recovers its emergency costs. The bills will feature a “marginally” increased gas commodity cost, the utility said, at a time when gas usage typically decreases so as to minimize the impact on residential consumers.

Customers will first start to see the Emergency Commodity Recovery Surcharge itemized on their May bills, LCU said in the release.

How much more customers can expect to pay is still unknown, the city said. LCU is currently contesting invoiced costs from suppliers.

“We are finalizing the cost and invoice details with the suppliers and transportation pipeline from the mid-February cold snap.” said Jose Provencio, LCU deputy director of Business Services. “We are using all tools available to us to ensure minimal economic impact to our customers.”

Natural gas is one of the four utilities the city provides. LCU provides gas to customers with zero mark-up and doesn’t make a profit.

For information, customers are encouraged to visit the Las Cruces Utilities webpage, las-cruces.org/180/Utilities, or call 575-541-2111.



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