Xcel Energy residential customers across Colorado have faced price hikes for a number of years. Angela Cortez, Director of Communications for AARP Colorado, says her organization is hoping to put an end to them.
"We got involved because we saw a lot of people, heard from a lot of people who noticed their bills had already gone up," said Cortez. "Xcel decided to file a rate case in which they were asking for hundreds of millions of dollars. We decided to fight back."
Since January, that effort garnered support from thousands of residential customers.
"We asked them to contact Xcel. We sent out cards and we delivered about 9,009 tear-off cards who members of AARP who said enough is enough. We already have sticker shock."
And, as a result, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission drastically cut Xcel's request for that big gas rate hike. The PUC approved a hike of $64 million to take effect, about 32% of what Xcel initially requested.
"We consider that a win for older adults on fixed income and families that are struggling, especially right now with the cost of living," said Cortez.
The PUC ruling means consumers can expect bills to go up about $2 a month going forward instead of $4.
"I think there's power in numbers and I think it made all the difference in reducing this rate hike," Cortez said.
CBS News Colorado's Mekialaya White also checked in with Xcel Energy Spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo, who issued the following full statement in response: "We understand our customers are experiencing price increases in all areas of their lives. We're committed to doing all we can to keep costs low for our customers while delivering the safe, reliable energy they depend on.
This proposal supports essential investments that improve system reliability, strengthen safety and inspection programs, and take meaningful steps to operate the cleanest natural gas system possible, benefiting all our customers. The proposal also supports our growing communities as we build the system to deliver service to those new homes and businesses. Some of these investments and projects have already been completed and are benefitting our customers.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission's decision increases natural gas rates for the average residential customer by $2.90 (or 2.9%) per month and average small commercial customers by $12.95 (or 3.1%), starting November 2022. It is important to note that most of the cost customers see on their bills are caused by the rising cost of natural gas on the global market, which has more than tripled since January 2021. Customers pay the wholesale cost of the natural gas delivered to them, and Xcel Energy does not make a profit from it.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission agreed with much of our request in this gas rate case, however the most significant differences between our request and the approved proposal were the requirements as part of capital steps requested in 2023 and 2024 of around $81.5M and a reduced return on the rate base by $43.7M.
While natural gas continues to be the most reliable and affordable source to heat our customers' homes, Xcel Energy encourages customers to plan ahead for the heating season and take steps to save energy and money this winter.
- Tips for saving money and energy can be found at xcelenergy.com/Tips.
- Find information on incentives and rebates to make your home more energy-efficient by clicking on "Programs & Rebates" on xcelenergy.com.
- If you're struggling to pay energy bills, we have ways to help. Learn more by visiting Xcel Energy's Energy Assistance page at xcelenergy.com/EnergyAssistance or call 800-895-4999.
- Customers can also enroll in our Averaged Monthly Payment program to help make their monthly energy bills more predictable."
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