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    Low gas supplies, growing demand drive Xcel Energy's request


    September 24, 2021 - The Denver Post

     

      Xcel Energy customers in Colorado will see higher bills starting Oct. 1 if state regulators approve the utility's request for a rate increase.

      Xcel said the price for natural gas is rising substantially because demand is outpacing supplies, which are 20% below historical averages. In addition, gas-processing facilities were damaged by Hurricane Ida when it slammed into the Gulf Coast in August.

      Monthly bills for a typical residential natural gas customer are expected to go up an average of $11.22, a 14.38% jump. Small businesses will likely see their rates rise an average of $48.50, or up 15.83%

      Typical residential electric bills for Xcel customers in Colorado are expected to increase $1.91 a month, up 2.69%, while typical bills for small businesses will rise $2.96 a month, or 2.58%, the utility said in a statement.

      The cost of electricity is affected because Xcel uses natural gas to fuel some of its electric-generating plants.

      With some exceptions, rate changes are passed through to customers on a dollar-to-dollar basis, Xcel said. The company said it doesn't profit from increased prices in the natural gas market.

      The new rates would stay in effect for three months.

      In July, the utility submitted a request to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for rate increases totaling $343 million. Residential customers would see their monthly electric bills rise by an average of $9.46 and a typical small-business customer's monthly bill would increase by $14.46.

      Xcel Energy, the state's largest electric utility, said the increases would pay for improvements it has made to its system and updates needed to serve the growing number of customers. If approved, the rate increases wouldn't kick in until September 2022.

      The Colorado Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate, formerly the Office of Consumer Counsel, has expressed concerns about Xcel's requests for rate increases.

      People having trouble paying their utility bills can contact Xcel to set up payments or learn about other assistance by calling 1-800-895-4999 or go to the utility's Energy Assistance page at xcelenergy.com.

      Judith Kohler: jkohler@denverpost.com or @JudithKohler

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