Round Rock voted unanimously Feb. 23 to suspend a proposed rate increase by Atmos Energy for 90 days, joining a number of other area cities in asking for more time to examine the rates and negotiate with Atmos.

Atmos Energy filed a proposed rate increase at the end of January that would raise the base rate for residential customers from $7.50 per month to $18, according to Alfred Herrera, an attorney with Herrera & Boyle PLLC that represents a number of cities in negotiations with Atmos.

Pflugerville and Hutto city councils also recently voted to suspend the Atmos rate increase.

In a presentation to the council, Herrera said negotiations with Atmos were ongoing and that the 90-day suspension would give them time to continue to work with Atmos, a natural gas provider.

Randy Hartford, spokesman for Atmos Energy, said the effect of the rate increase would be minimal for the average residential customer since natural gas prices were dropping.

Hartford said the average user consumes 4.4 million cubic feet of gas for a bill of $48.51. The proposed rate increase would take that to $51.21.

Herrera said there were two main issues with an increase in the base rate.

"It hits your low-income and your moderate-income customers pretty hard," he said, adding, "It tends to discourage conservation. If you know that you have to pay this much, why worry about it?"

The 90-day suspension starts March 6.