DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Almost a year has passed since 12-year-old Linda Rogers died and thousands of residents were displaced after a house explosion. Now Atmos Energy says some of those costs should fall on its customers.
Neighbors in the Northwest Dallas community say they still feel the repercussions from the tragic house explosion last February.
"It affected the whole community here. People had to move out, people have to go to hotels," says resident Arturo Hernandez.
The lives of thousands of neighbors were also uprooted as Atmos replaced nearly 90 miles of aging distribution pipes. And now, Atmos says, some of those repair costs belong to the customers - including those neighbors.
"If approved as filed, it would represent a $3 a month increase to an average residential customer's bill," says Chris Felan of Atmos Energy.
Wednesday, Atmos asked the city of Dallas for the $10.1 million rate increase, calling it necessary to maintain safe infrastructure.
"Last year, in the city of Dallas, we've invested more than $119 million, and certainly that 3 week period during that time, the infrastructure associated with that is included in this filing," says Felan.
Also this week, State Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas filed legislation to increase transparency from natural gas companies. It includes requiring them to publish online maps of leak locations and notifying neighbors within 72 hours of a leak.
"We had a little girl who died. That shouldn't be happening anywhere, much less in a wealthy community like here in Dallas," he says.
Hernandez agrees, and says the ensuing costs should fall only on Atmos.
"It cost somebody's life, and for them to say, 'Oh, we're just going to pass it to the customer,' it's not fair, because it's their own mistake for them."
Dallas city leaders will now review the request for the rate hike. If it's granted, it would go into effect June 1st. If they deny it, Atmos can appeal to the Railroad Commission of Texas.
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