Atmos Energy is the largest natural-gas-only distributor in the United States. Our regulated distribution operations deliver natural gas to 3.2 million residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and public-authority customers. Our distribution services are provided to more than 1,600 communities in 12 states.
Atmos Energy is known as one of the most efficient natural gas distribution companies in the industry because of constant cost management. Our employees keep productivity at industry-leading levels. In 2008, we served 700 natural gas distribution customers per employee, as compared with an average of 587 customers per employee served by our peer group. Our natural gas distribution operation and maintenance expense of $122 per customer in fiscal 2008 was also lower than our peer-group average of $216 per customer. Our efficiency helps us better serve our customers, but never at the expense of safety or service.
Atmos Energy's nonregulated operations are ranked as one of