Coming as the utility’s first rate hike request in two years, Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) has filed for a $96.1 million adjustment to natural gas base rates with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), in part to fund $1 billion in natural gas system improvements. The base rate adjustment would mean a $3.80 monthly increase for the typical residential customer.

AGL says the rate increase would allow the company to make its system safer, comply with new regulations, respond faster to customer calls and leak reports, increase reliability on the coldest days of the year and extend natural gas service to underserved areas. It added that these are “critical system improvements.”

“Working with the PSC, we have been very deliberate in making substantial investments in our system since natural gas prices started trending down in 2009,” said AGL President Bryan Batson. “We are urging the PSC to allow us to stay ahead of the curve and continue these investments at this rate, recognizing our customers will be less impacted with natural gas rates being forecasted to remain low for the foreseeable future.”

Batson noted that AGL residential customers are currently paying an average of $250 less per year for their gas service than they did in 2008.

Among other things, AGL’s $1 billion system improvements include:

  • More damage prevention programs, installation of remote-control valves, aging pipeline replacement, regulator station upgrades, installation of cyber security protective measures, and pipeline inspection and testing to help ensure appropriate operating pressures comply with pending federal regulations;
  • Pipeline improvements in Bryan, Chatham, Cobb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Hall, Murray and Paulding counties.These improvements could boost capacity for future growth and avoid service losses on the coldest days of the year; and
  • New meter installs, new main extensions and facility relocations related to public projects.

The company last made base rate adjustments in March 2017, which were $20.4 million, followed by a $16 million credit to customers in 2018. The credit was spurred by the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and funded higher operating costs for two years, while offsetting the need to file for additional rate increases in 2018 and 2019.

PSC’s decision on the adjustments should be made by Dec. 2019. Pending PSC approval, the rate adjustment could go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.