Amarillo's Economy Dropping for Good and Bad

Ray Urrutia, Atmos Energy
Ray Urrutia, Atmos Energy
Dale Artho, Local Producer
Dale Artho, Local Producer

Amarillo's economy seems to be down turning on many fronts, and while some may be good for you, there may be hidden drawbacks.

According to a report from Amarillo National Bank, natural gas prices are down 19 percent from last year. And while you will see relief on your bill, money is also falling out of other funds.

Some indicators of the state of the economy are being described as going off a cliff. Oil prices are down 54 percent, and you can see the natural gas savings on your bill.

Roy Urrutia with Atmos Energy says, "It's made up of 3 components. Which is a customer charge - what we charge every month, for us to provide the gas to your home, than the reading which is used from your home. The third component is gas cost. That's where that comes into being. Is because gas cost makes up 77% of a customers bill. Prices are below six dollars. When you compare that to a year ago they were over $7."

In the summer months, prices spiked at more than 13 dollars.

Natural gas is used to make fertilizer, and many farmers bought up fertilizer at a time when the prices were high. When those drop, they lose thousands, and that directly affects you.

Local Producer Dale Artho says, "Like the price of ammonia has dropped well over $600 a ton from the high. So if you have 10,000 tons of fertilizer in storage and you lose $600 a ton on that, that's a big loss. That affects your local business man, and if he is not in business, how does that affect your school taxes and your ability to promote a school system and your health system too."

Officials say there is no word on where prices will go from here. But they do hope 2009 will bring more stabilization.

Some ways for you to keep saving, even if prices go back up include: Seal your windows or weather stripping can save you 10-20 percent. Change your furnace filter on a regular basis. And turn down the temperature setting on your water heater.