[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Las Vegas as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Natural Gas; Rates
[Adopted as Ch. 4, Art. 3 of the 1972 City Code; amended in its entirety at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
This article is called and may be cited as the "Natural Gas Ordinance" for the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
In the interpretation of the Natural Gas Ordinance, the following definitions and rules of construction shall be observed, unless it shall be otherwise expressly provided in any section of this article, or unless inconsistent with the manifest intent of this article:
- BILLING MONTH
- Any period of 25 to 35 consecutive days, which shall normally be the time between readings of the customer's meter. In the event that, for any reason, the customer's meter is not read on this schedule, the customer's use of natural gas for a billing month may be estimated using information from the customer's records for previous billing months. Customers shall normally be billed on a monthly basis. If, for any reason, the City fails to send a bill to a customer, the City shall retroactively bill that customer.
- The City of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
- Compressed natural gas.
- COMMERCIAL CUSTOMER
- Any person or entity which takes natural gas service from the City's gas utility system, and is engaged in a business or governmental activity which is not generally recognized as an industrial, mining, and/or manufacturing activity or residential occupancy.
- Any person or entity which takes natural gas service from the City's gas utility system, and maintains an account with the City for the provision of such service.
- The Gas Department Director appointed pursuant to the Charter and ordinances of the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A single unit used for residential occupancy which may be a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a recreational vehicle, or other structure used in such manner.
- FIRM GAS CUSTOMER
- Those customers who do require continuously available supplies of natural gas.
- GAS UTILITY SYSTEM
- The physical system of pipes, connectors, regulators, service lines and associated equipment used to transport and deliver natural gas; and the metering, accounting and recordkeeping systems required to measure and record the delivery of natural gas to the City or to customers, to provide technical and business information concerning the gas utility system, and to provide for billing and recordkeeping for customer accounts; and the personnel and equipment required for the management, construction, operation and maintenance of the gas utility system. The gas utility system shall terminate at the customer's side of the meter through which natural gas is delivered to the customer.
- INDUSTRIAL CUSTOMER
- Any person or entity which takes natural gas service from the City's gas utility system, and is engaged in an industrial, mining, and/or manufacturing activity.
- INTERRUPTIBLE CUSTOMER
- Those who do not require continuously available supplies of natural gas and who have been approved in advance by the City as an interruptible customer.
- The owner of a dwelling unit or other structure which is not occupied by the owner, and which dwelling unit or other structure is supplied natural gas service by the City's gas utility system. The landlord shall be and remain responsible for payment of amounts due for natural gas service to the dwelling unit or other structure for which it is the owner.
- LARGE VOLUME USER
- A customer of the City's gas utility system which receives natural gas service through a meter having a size or capacity larger than two inches. A large volume user may be a residential, commercial or industrial customer.
- One thousand cubic feet of natural gas. All natural gas service provided by the City's gas utility system shall be measured, metered and billed to the customer in MCF.
- NATURAL GAS SERVICE
- The acquisition and delivery of natural gas to customers by the City of Las Vegas gas utility system, including the metering and billing of volumes received by the customer.
- Any human being or legal entity, whether incorporated or unincorporated.
- RENTAL CUSTOMER
- A customer who rents or leases a dwelling unit or a commercial or an industrial facility which is serviced by the City's natural gas system.
- RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER
- A person or entity which takes natural gas service from the City's gas utility system at an individual dwelling unit.
- SERVICE LINES
- All gas lines and parts from the meter to the main.
- SHALL; MAY
- "Shall" is mandatory, and "may" is permissive.
- SMALL VOLUME USER
- A customer of the City's gas utility system which receives natural gas service through a meter having a two-inch or smaller size and/or capacity. A small volume user may be a residential, commercial or industrial customer.
Any person found guilty of violating any of the provisions of this article shall be fined not more than $300 or imprisoned for a period of not more than 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and each day this article is violated shall constitute a separate offense; provided, however, that if a specific penalty is provided therefor in any particular and individual section of this article, then the specific penalty shall prevail.
Rates. Natural gas service from Las Vegas natural gas utility system is available to any customer through a single meter. The amount paid each monthly billing period for all gas delivered shall be in accordance with the following schedule of charges:
Monthly service fee. All customers shall pay a basic service charge for each monthly billing period.
Cost of service rate: $2.77 per MCF for all gas delivered.
Cost of gas component. The charges for all gas delivered shall be increased by the cost of gas acquired by and delivered to the City's gas utility system, adjusted for loss and unaccounted for gas, on a monthly basis. The cost of gas shall include transportation, transmission, and other gas-related costs as billed by the City's gas supplier(s). The loss and unaccounted for gas shall be the actual percentage of loss and unaccounted for gas experienced in the immediately preceding fiscal year. The calculation of the monthly cost of gas component is calculated as follows:
Tax adjustment clause. The charges shall be increased by an amount equal to taxes payable under the Gross Receipts and Compensating Tax Act and other assessments by any governmental authority on the utility service provided by the City.
Consumer price index adjustment. The City may, from time to time, on an annual basis, adjust the noncost of gas-related rates for service above in conformance with changes in the consumer price index (CPI) as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, or its authorized replacement agency, for the West Urban Area of the USA.
Automatic adjustment to rates. In the event that the City determines that its natural gas utility system has operated in a deficit situation in the immediately previous fiscal year, the City may apply a price adjustment to the rates contained in Subsection A above which shall be based on the consumer price index as it is determined from time to time by the federal government. The price adjustment shall be based on the consumer price index data for the immediately previous fiscal year. Any adjustments to rates shall be computed by the Natural Gas Utility Department.
Use of this section. This section shall be used in conjunction with other ordinances for rates and charges for service from the Las Vegas natural gas utility as they may be promulgated from time to time by the City Council.
Civil penalty. Any person or entity found guilty of violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $300 and shall have their gas utility service disconnected for an appropriate period of time as determined by the City Manager. Each day that this section is violated shall constitute a separate offense. If a specific penalty is provided in any other subsection of this section, then the penalty shall govern that subsection.
Special charges. Special charges for service from the Las Vegas natural gas utility system shall be assessed and applied as described below, and they are applicable to each customer for whom service is rendered as described below:
Account transfer read-in fee. In the event that a potential customer requests the transfer of service and payment responsibility to that potential customer, the meter at the premises for which service is being provided shall be read, and the record of the account shall be changed so as to show the name, address and other relevant information pertaining to the potential customer, thereby making the potential customer the customer of record for the account. This service shall be provided only during normal business hours.
Bill collection fee. In the event that the City must collect payment for gas services away from its established business offices, a charge for this collection service shall be assessed to the account.
Damage to the City's utility system. In the event that damage is done to the City's utility system by any person or entity not acting as an agent of the City, the total actual cost of repairing the damage shall be charged to the person or entity causing the damage. In the event that the damage is done to the City's utility system which resides on a customer's premises, and the person or entity which caused the damage cannot be determined, the customer on whose premises the damage occurred shall be held responsible for the damage. Damage shall include the cost of natural gas lost as the result of damage to the system, as it is estimated by the City.
Amounts. Customers shall deposit with the City of Las Vegas the following amounts in order to establish natural gas service:
Interest on deposits:
The City shall deposit into an interest-bearing account all deposits received pursuant to this section. The City shall pay interest on deposits to all customers either.
Interest paid by the City shall be based on an annual average interest received by the City for deposit of such sums.
Refund of deposits.
Deposits placed by residential, commercial and industrial customers shall be refunded by crediting the amount of the deposit to the customer's account after one complete year of service if the customer's account is current and if the account during the previous year has not been more than 60 days' past due more than one time. Refunds shall not be made to rental customers except at the time of the closing of the rental customer's account and discontinuance of service. Refunds shall normally be made annually during the month of March.
If the account has not been current as indicated, the account shall be reviewed each year on its anniversary date for refund of the deposit based on the same criteria.
Refunds of deposits upon discontinuance of service. Upon discontinuance of service, the deposit herein specified less deductions for delinquencies shall be forthwith paid to the customer. No interest shall be paid on accounts which have been active for a period of less than one continuous year.
Change of service location. Any customer transferring service from one location to another shall not be required to place a deposit for service at the new location if the amount has not been more than 60 days' past due more than one time in the previous year before said transfer.
Waiver of deposit. The City Manager may waive or defer a deposit if a complete investigation has revealed:
That the person requesting such waiver or deferral has been a residential customer whose account has not been delinquent in the past; or
That such customer for some reasonable cause cannot pay the full amount of the deposit, in which case the City Manager may defer the deposit for a period not to exceed three months; or
That the customer has been a long standing business person in the community and that such business has not had a delinquent utility account within the previous two years; or
That such customer, if a rental customer, has established his/her service history at other locations for a period of at least two years and has not been delinquent during the period; or
That a residential customer who has not been delinquent within the previous two years is willing to place a rental customer's account under the residential customer's name; or
That such customer has transferred service from one location to another if such customer's account has not been more than 60 days' past due more than one time in the previous year before such transfer.
Late payment fee. Amounts billed for natural gas service shall be due and payable when billed, and shall become subject to late payment fee in the event that the customer fails to pay the amount due, or fails to pay the amount due in full, by the stated payment due date. The City shall assess a fee of 1.5% per month to amounts which have not been paid at the time of rendering of the next monthly bill. This fee shall be compounded in billing periods in which amounts remain unpaid.
Meter testing fee.
In the event that a customer requests that the City test the accuracy of the meter serving the customer's premises, the City shall charge the customer the actual cost of the test, including but not limited to the cost of labor required to remove the meter and the cost of performing the meter test. The meter testing fee shall be waived in the event that the meter is found to be recording outside the established limits of the accuracy for the City's metering systems. This service shall be provided only during normal business hours.
When a metering system is found to be recording volumes in excess of 2% greater than the actual weighted average of the total volume flow, the City shall refund to the customer an amount equal to the excess charged above the 2% standard for gas incorrectly metered. The period for which the correction is to be made shall be the time elapsed since the prior previous test, or the period of time since the apparent failure, but in no event shall the adjustment period exceed six months.
Returned check fee. In the event that a customer's check or bank draft which has been presented for payment for service is returned to the City unpaid, the City shall assess a fee for each such returned check or bank draft.
Service relocation fee. In the event that a customer requests that the City relocate its gas utility system for the convenience of the customer, the requesting customer shall pay the total actual cost of the relocation. The customer shall be provided an estimate of the cost of the relocation and shall pay the estimated cost in advance. At the time that the relocation is completed, the City shall advise the customer of the actual cost of the relocation, and payment shall be made to either the City or the customer in the amount by which the estimated and actual costs differ.
Service turn-on or turn-off, and other special services. In the event that a customer requests that the City perform the services described hereunder, the City shall assess the following fees for these services. These services shall include the reading and recording of data for the meter at the premises as appropriate.
No waiver of fee. With the exception of the waiver of deposit described herein, no fee or charge for special service shall be waived.
Property owner responsible for charges. Charge for service of municipal utility becomes a lien against the property served; exception.
Any charge by ordinance for service rendered by a municipal utility, except as indicated in Subsection C(11)(c) of this section, shall be:
The lien shall be enforced in the manner provided in NMSA 1978, §§ 3-36-1 through 3-36-5. In any proceedings where pleadings are required, it shall be sufficient to declare generally for the municipal utility service. Notice of the lien shall be filed in the manner provided in NMSA 1978, § 3-36-1, and the effect of such filing shall be governed by NMSA 1978, § 3-36-2.
Subsection C(11)(a) of this section shall not apply if an owner notifies the municipality that utility charges which may be incurred by a renter will not be the responsibility of the owner. Such notification shall be given in writing utilizing the City approved landlord/tenant form, prior to the initiation of the debt and shall include the location of the rental property.
Responsibility for payment of charges.
Landlord utilities waiver of responsibility form. If a landlord does not wish to be responsible for specific, or any utilities incurred on their rental property(ies), they must submit a notarized "Landlord Waiver of Responsibility Form" to the City of Las Vegas Utilities Department located at 905 12th Street.
If such form is not submitted, the landlord is responsible for any charges accrued, pursuant to NMSA 1978, § 3-23-6, and if utility charges are not paid to the City within six months after the initial billing date, a lien against the property shall be filed according to NMSA 1978, § 3-36-1. The landlord shall submit a landlord utilities waiver of responsibility form only once for each rental property involving said waiver of utility payment.
Landlord standby utilities agreement. The landlord must enter into a "landlord standby utilities agreement" with the City to have those services provided by the City Utilities Department. Provision of standby utilities services are optional and will be provided only to those landlords requesting said standby services.
Landlord/tenant filing system. The City of Las Vegas Utilities Department shall maintain a comprehensive filing system that will contain any and all agreements, waivers, and forms requesting utility service covered in this section. A separate file will be maintained for each landlord and each utility service address.
Automatic adjustment to fees and charges. In the event that the City determines that its natural gas utility system has operated in a deficit situation in the immediately previous fiscal year, the City may apply a price adjustment to the fees contained in Subsection C(1), (2), (7) and (9) above which shall be based on the consumer price index as it is determined from time to time by the federal government. The price adjustment shall be based on the consumer price index as it is determined from time to time by the federal government. The price adjustment shall be based on the consumer price index data for the immediately previous fiscal year. Any adjustments to fees shall be computed by the Natural Gas Utility Department.
If there are reasonable grounds to believe that a meter or service has been tampered with, including unauthorized turn on of meters, unauthorized taps into the service or main lines, and unauthorized adjustment or change of meter index, the meter shall be removed and a charge of $100 for meter removal will be assessed against the customer whose service has been tampered with and said charge will be required to be paid prior to service again being provided to the customer at any address.
City Gas Department meters may be located either at the property line or next to the building using gas. This determination shall be made by the Director or the Gas Foreman. Gas service lines from the main to the property line or adjacent to building shall be installed by the City. Such service lines shall remain the property of the City.
Setting of meters and turning on gas service shall be under direction and supervision of the Director. No meter shall be moved or gas service turned on or off without proper work order issued by authorized City personnel.
Appropriate meters for the measuring of gas shall be determined by the Gas Director. Installation of meters shall occur by the City for the purpose of measuring the consumption of gas by each customer.
Such rules and regulations as may be deemed necessary for the proper operation, management and regulation of the natural gas distribution system may from time to time be adopted, amended and changed by resolution of the City Council of the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Should the service line installation require a cut into a paved street or alley, there will be an additional charge to the customer of $8 per square foot of street or alley cut.
All requests for services for meters in excess of 500 cfh shall be charged at actual current market price for all required appurtenances and related costs of installation.
Each one-family residence or individual business shall be required to be served off its own natural gas meter, except where a master meter exists.
The piping system on the customer's premises shall be inspected and approved by the appropriate governmental inspection agency before natural gas service will be connected. All customer installations shall comply with the plumbing codes of the State of New Mexico and any other legally applicable codes. Documented approval shall be issued to the City by the proper governmental agency prior to service being provided by the City.
The City shall light pilots on the customer's system upon request. No other work on customer's gas system shall be performed by the City. The City shall not assume any responsibility for piping inspections on the customer's natural gas system.
Any service turned off more than six months shall require a mercury test prior to turn on of gas service.
All meters used in connection with metered natural gas service shall be furnished, installed, and maintained by the City.
There is hereby adopted the conditions, provisions, limitations and terms of the Natural Gas Code of the State of New Mexico, and if any provisions of this article be in conflict therewith, the stricter provisions shall prevail.
It shall be unlawful for any person to tamper with any gas meter, or move any gas meter, do natural gas work (on the City's natural gas system) or to connect a customer to the natural gas system of the City without first obtaining a permit for such purpose.
General. Whenever an extension of a City gas main is required to serve an applicant, or group of applicants, extensions will be made under the terms and conditions set forth in this article.
Line size. All line extensions shall be sized to provide adequate domestic or commercial service. Minimum distribution line size is to be two inches diameter. The City shall be the sole judge of proper line sizing.
No requirement of unprofitable extension. The City shall not under any condition be required to make an extension that would be unprofitable and thereby cause undue hardship to existing customers. The Director shall be the final judge of the feasibility of a gas main extension. He shall include in his consideration, but not be limited to, the following factors: Length of extension; special appurtenances required; estimated future consumption; estimated number of potential future customers off the main line extension; availability of easements; duration of expected use; and maintenance requirements.
Placement of lines. All gas lines of the City will be constructed in existing public roads, streets, City-owned land, alleys, or easements. The applicant shall furnish such rights-of-way as are required without charge to the City over property owned by said applicant and shall assist the City in securing other rights-of-way necessary to provide service over property not owned by said applicant.
Option to extend. Should the Director make a determination that the extension of a gas main is unprofitable and the customer is willing to pay the entire cost of a gas main extension, the Director may determine to allow such an extension. Specific terms of such an agreement shall be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Availability of service from the gas utility system. Service from the City's gas utility system shall be available only within the corporate limits of the City of Las Vegas, except that service outside the limits of the City may be supplied by special action of the City Council.
Charges for the extension of service lines. Charges for the extension of the City's service lines to connect the gas utility system to a customer's premises shall be assessed and applied as described below, and they are applicable to each customer for whom service is rendered as described below.
Any customer requesting the extension of the City's system shall pay the entire cost of the extension in advance of the commencement of work. The City shall provide the customer with an estimate of the cost of the connection, and this shall be the basis for charges which shall be paid by the customer. In the event that the actual cost of the connection is lower than the estimate, the customer shall receive a refund of the amount overpaid.
The City shall make the sole determination of the adequacy of the size and capacity of the gas utility system in its analysis of a request for service connection. In the event that the size and capacity of the gas utility system is found to be inadequate, the estimated cost of the requested connection shall include all costs of improving the size and capacity of the gas utility system required to meet the requesting customer's service needs.
Credit for connections made to extensions.
In the event that a new customer makes connection to an extension which was previously installed at the request of an original customer and paid for by that original customer, the City shall make a refund to the original customer in an amount equal to the pro rata per-foot cost of the original extension multiplied by the frontage footage of the property of the new customer. The total amount of refunds made to the original customer shall be limited to the amount paid by the original customer for the extension. The period of time during which refunds shall be made to the original customer shall be five years after the completion of the extension made for the original customer.
The Gas Utility Department shall maintain records of customer extensions for purposes of application of this provision.
An identified representative of the City shall have the right to convenient ingress and egress to and from the customer's premises for the purpose of inspecting, maintaining, testing, reading, changing, installing or removing its meters; if such duly identified representative is refused admittance or hindered or prevented from performing the above duties, the gas service to the customer may be discontinued until free access is given.
Unless otherwise provided, billings will be made on a monthly basis. Such accounts shall be payable when billed and shall become delinquent if not paid within 45 days from the date of billing. Failure to pay for natural gas when due shall constitute a delinquency of said account and the City may, after proper notification measures to the customer, thereafter discontinue service for nonpayment, and such service shall not be reinstated until payment of the delinquencies or arrangements for the delinquencies have been made. If a customer is delinquent in the payment of natural gas at one location, he shall not be entitled to gas service at another location until such prior delinquency has been paid.
The City may take the following action in response to delinquent natural gas charges:
The City Finance Department shall notify the customer of delinquent amounts and that service shall be terminated on a particular date, not less than 10 days after mailing of the notice. Each delinquent notice shall contain the following language:
For the purpose of convenience, the billing and collecting of the charges levied for the service by this article shall be done by the Finance Department of the City, and such charges shall be payable at the Cashier's Office in the same manner as other services are billed and collected by the City.
It shall be unlawful for any person to in any way interfere with any employee of the City or its designated representative in any discharge of their duties.
The City of Las Vegas Natural Gas Department shall be compensated for any damages to the natural gas pipeline system by any third party, including, but not limited to, construction companies, water and gas plumbers, landowners, homeowners, business owners and utility companies. The City of Las Vegas Natural Gas Department, Public Works Department, Water Department, Waste Water Department and Sanitation Department shall be excluded from this provision.
Formula to determine cost recovery. The following formula shall be used to calculate the volume of natural gas lost from a puncture or blow off:
As the owner of an underground utility pipeline, the Gas Department of the City of Las Vegas must be a member of a One Call Notification System. This requirement is a result of a state statute enacted during the 43rd Legislative Session (1997) of the State of New Mexico introduced as Senate Bill 810 which requires each and every owner or operator of a pipeline facility to be a member of a One Call Notification System.
The Gas Department of the City of Las Vegas is a member of the Local Utility Council which is comprised of the local government agency and private underground pipeline owners. The local Utility Council encompasses all underground utilities within the City of Las Vegas and those areas which bound the City limits. This Council functions under the authority of the New Mexico One Call System and New Mexico Blue Stake Law.