July 16, 2013 10:47:43 AM
Sixty-one customers of the Artesia natural gas system will soon see their monthly rates cut 49 percent after Mississippi Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley signed an act approving a sale and transfer to Atmos Energy Corporation Monday.
Presley said monthly bill amounts will drop from $35.65 a month to $18.16 -- a yearly savings of $209.88 -- for residential customers.
Commercial customers' monthly bills would decrease from $111.15 to $46.58 -- a $774.84 savings over 12 months. Large users of natural gas would see monthly rates drop from $452.61 to $336.01, Presley said.
"What the customers of Artesia are able to take advantage of is an economy of scale. You've got a company like Atmos with hundreds of thousands of customers across Mississippi compared to just trying to operate one small town with 61 customers," he said. "This enables them to be part of a larger pool of customers, which in turn cuts the rates, and it cuts them almost in half. For businesses, it will be a little above half."
Presley said the proximity of Artesia to Atmos' already existing gas system makes the transfer a natural move.
"If you're trying to operate an entire system that only has 61 customers. the few number of customers just makes it hard for these smaller companies to stay viable and keep their head above water," he said. "This is a good move for the citizens there. It's a good move for Atmos to pick up 61 customers."
Atmos employees began testing procedures for the switch Monday.
The natural-gas-only distributor serves nine states.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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