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For y subscrit Reader compai $8.50 a AND . from ni the ides PLUS . Details IN ADI page. li up part easier ti FINAL obtain Why Lone Star takes ps out of the ground. Then pumps it right back in. One of the big advantages of natural gas is that k can be stored to help net your heating needs in the coldest weather. We store enormous mounts of gas it 9 active intergroup:I storage facities within the Lae Star system. In fad, we have storage caps* equal to all residential and cminenial requirements in the Fort Watch Metropolitan Area for thnefulberirs. Lme Star negotiates far the gas, buys, gathers and stays it aoccafing to anticipated customer need The gas we star adds to ow normal reserves during peak winter demands. And has us delver the best possible energy bargain to at our =tamers. There’s no need for our residential and commercial =tamers to worry about gas shortages this whet Lone Star, through good management and the pimeerig of concepts such as underground storage, am wily the gas youl need. And that’s something a lot of other gas companies wish they could say to their custorrers these days. Lone Star Gas Company 6 IT GETS COLD IN WICHITA FALLS By Tom Knutsen Wichita Falls Lone Star Gas confounded customers in the Wichita Falls area Dec. 8 with the nation’s first natural gas curtailment of the cold season. Curiously, the cutback coincided with a local television and newspaper campaign designed to assure north Texans that the Fort Worth-based company had plenty of gas to warm them through the prematurely cold winter. Beginning Dec. 1, in fact, Lone Star ran a series of ads in Wichita Falls papers announc Lone Star Cuts Gas ing that although the utility’s systemwide customers had burned more gas over a certain five-day period in November than in any similar period in Lone Star history, there was no reason to worry about gas supplies. And then Lone Star went and shut down the schools in Wichita Falls and five surrounding towns. To save money, the schools had switched to the cheaper rate 1 schedule, but the economy move put the schools first in line for curtailment of service. Industries on rates 2 and 3 were affected too, but the lost school day galled people the most. When Lone Star’s regional manager, David Liles, came to town to explain why the cutback was necessary, instead of placating customers he merely raised another question. The curtailment was caused, he said, by Lone Star’s need to conserve pumping pressure for gas flow across the Red River to several Oklahoma towns sharing the pipeline network that serves Wichita Falls and the neighboring communities of Burkburnett, Electra, Henrietta, Iowa Park, and Byers, among others. These Texas customers were bumped in favor of users north of the state line. The Texas munic Tom Knutsen is a reporter for the Wichita Falls Times. 6 The Texas Observer ipalities, local officials were astonished to learn for the first time, were tied to an interstate gas system. North Texans came quickly to believe that Lone Star had deliberately contrived the shortage as a means of forcing Wichita Falls into accepting higher gas rates. Six weeks earlier, the city’s board of aldermen had approved a rate hike ordinance that fell short of Lone Star’s request. Now, officials talked of suing Lone Star for charging higher intrastate fees for gas flowing on a line designated as interstate and controlled by the Federal Power Commission. Although rate 3 industrial users had been asked to cut back on gas use, Liles said he could foresee no serious reductions in service despite the abnormally low temperatures which had kept thermostats turned up in October and November. But as he spoke, Lone Star was pumping gas out of the vast underground storage fields that lay south of a line between Wichita Falls and its eastern neighbor, Henrietta. Late in the afternoon of Dec. 7, a Tuesday, the utility passed the word that lower-rate customers would have to shift to minimum operation at midnight Wed Promises from Lone Star nesday. Among those curtailed w\( schools on the interstate pipeline sot of the Red River. “We’re requesti they only use a sufficient amount of ht to protect their pipes from freezing said Liles, yet gas kept flowing to Dalt Fort Worth, and even towns as near Archer City. All are on an exclusive intrastate pipeline. While school children slept the n\( morning and their working moth\( searched for baby sitters, “Gas Shorts Closes Schools” blared across the fr\( page of the Wichita Falls Record Nev the city’s morning paper. Buried ins; was another in the series of Lone Sta institutional ads. It read, in part, “Lc Star negotiates for the gas, buys, gatlx and stores it according to anticipai customer needs. The gas we store of to our normal reserves during pt winter months.” Liles covered himself and defeni the ads by pointing out that they “there’s no need for our residential commercial customers to worry ab gas shortages.” True, no customer those top-rate categories suffered an convenience, but Liles glossed over ads’ obvious intent. Lone Star stopped the ads the da: the curtailment. Even without the ill-advised adve; ing barrage. Wichitans would have suspicious of the cause of Lone St sudden supply problems because of company’s run-in with the city over new gas rate ordinance. Beginning in July, Lone Star sought an 8 percent return on its in ment in Wichita Falls. In October, council approved the equivalent of a rate of return. Lone Star has appe Commission, and a hearing is set Feb. 15.’ The company has applied for the same rate of return in nearly every town in its service district. Dallas and its satellite communities of Archer City, Vernon, Van Alstyne, Royse City, Emory, and Eastland, as well as Wichita Falls, are either involved in hearings before the 716 Enter my regular pr $3 per yez II