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Las Crucens Could See Higher Gas Bills In Future

Residents in Las Cruces are saying no to a proposed hike in natural gas prices. The city-owned utility said it’s necessary to raise gas bills, but a committee representing the public said an increase isn’t warranted.

The Ratepayer Advisory Committee is made up of residents and appointed by the city council to represent the public. RAC said the proposed rate increase would actually turn out to be a lot more money than the utility company is letting on.

“The utility is claiming that they have lost money because of the operation expense, and we see that differently,” RAC Vice-Chairman Doug Cowan told ABC-7.

Cowan said their studies into what the city is proposing show the utility company is exaggerating the need they have.

“Our experts conclude that that increase is not substantiated and that in fact we have a major difference in what the rates should be. Our experts are telling us there should be no increase,” Cowan said.

The utility company said the hike would bring in about $666,000 in additional yearly revenue that is necessary to cover rising maintenance costs. They would not comment on the pending proposal.

Las Cruces residents, however, are very clear about where they stand.

“I can’t quite figure out what it’s based on because I’ve been clipping articles from a newspaper for ages now about gas rates being lower than they have ever been,” Tamie Smith, a concerned Las Crucen told ABC-7.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I think as things are right now, it’s hard for families to even just do extra things like activities with the kids and even just going into town and getting groceries,” another Las Cruces resident Erica Lueras said.

Despite natural gas prices being at an all time low, the RAC said the proposed rate increase is more of a service fee that would be added on top of gas usage.

In the end, Cowan said they’re just looking out for the best interests of Las Crucens.

“We don’t want to create a situation where the utility is put in a financial strain. We want a strong utility. We don’t want to go without gas in Las Cruces. However, none of us want to pay more than we ought to,” Cowan said.

The utility company said the proposed increase would add about $1.83 a month to the average gas bill. The RAC said it would ultimately come out to more money than that if it’s approved as is.

The RAC and the utility company will present their testimonies to the utility board, who will make the final decision in June.

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