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January 21, 2010

PSC Considering Pair of Gas Rate Hike Proposals From Atmos Energy

Winter is winding down, meaning natural gas customers should see their bills going down in conjunction with a declining demand for home heating needs.

That may be the only reason the bills will be lower as customers of Atmos Energy Corporation likely will be faced with a pair of rate increases in the not-to-distant future.

Atmos filed an application with the Missouri Public Service Commission seeking earlier this year to adjust the infrastructure system replacement surcharge (ISRS) on the natural gas bills of its customers. The ISRS first appeared on customer bills in November 2008.

Atmos is seeking to adjust the current ISRS to reflect infrastructure replacement investments made by the natural gas company from April 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. These costs for natural gas pipeline replacements and relocations are not currently included in Atmosí rates.

The current ISRS for residential customers in Atmosí west service area is $0.20 a month. Atmos seeks an increase to $0.66 a month. The current ISRS for residential customers in the southeast service area is $0.22 a month. Atmos seeks an increase to $0.51 a month. The current ISRS for residential customers in the northeast service area, which includes Scotland County, is $1.17 a month. Atmos seeks an increase to $2.91 a month.

The Missouri Public Service Commission is scheduled to begin formal evidentiary hearings in mid-July in a second natural gas rate case filed by Atmos. Hearings are scheduled for July 12-16, 2010 and July 19-23, 2010 in Room 310 of the Governor Office Building, 200 Madison Street, Jefferson City.

On December 28, 2009, Atmos filed a natural gas rate case with the Missouri Public Service Commission seeking to increase annual natural gas operating revenues by approximately $6.4 million. The effect of the companyís rate proposal on the non-gas portion of a residential customerís monthly bill appears below.

If approved the rate hike would raise the average northeast Missouri district customerís bill from Atmos from $20.61 to $33.23 a roughly 38% percent price increase. The western Missouri district would see a similar hike, going on average from $19.43 to $29.99, a 35% increase. Southeast Missouri district Atmos customers would see their bill go from $13.92 to $21.27, an increase of 34.5%.

The Missouri Public Service Commission will hold local public hearings to receive customer comment on the rate proposal. That schedule will be announced when dates, times and locations have been finalized.

Atmos serves approximately 56,590 natural gas customers in Missouri. The Atmos west service area includes the Butler District and the Rich Hill-Hume District (Bates, Cass, Henry and St. Clair counties). The southeast service area includes the SEMO District and the Neelyville District (Butler, Cape Girardeau, Dunklin, Iron, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Ripley, Scott, Stoddard and Wayne counties). The northeast service area includes the Hannibal, Canton, Bowling Green, Palmyra District and the Kirksville District (Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Macon, Marion, Pike, Ralls, Schuyler and Scotland counties).

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