This winter, you're paying more to stay warm in Colorado — way more, double or triple the cost a year ago.
- "I thought there had to be some kind of mistake," Howard Manresa told 9News. "Like what the hell is happening?" added Pam Manresa.
What's happening: Chilly weather, higher energy costs and a new pricing structure are leading to steep spikes in utility bills, particularly for the 1.6 million people with Xcel Energy in Colorado.
- The base rate Xcel charges to provide service tripled since 2020 with the most recent hike coming in November after approval from state regulators.
- More to the point, the cost to generate electricity and buy natural gas is much higher than a year ago and utility providers pass that added expense to customers.
By the numbers: Natural gas costs for consumers this month are $2.95 more per thermal unit compared to a year ago, Xcel reported.
- In October and November, the per unit cost was $4.73 higher than in 2021
Of note: Utility bills include a litany of additional costs that are hard to understand, from fees related to the crippling 2021 winter storm and retiring coal-fired power plants to added costs that cover renewable energy projects and rebates.
- The Minneapolis-based company says the charges are needed to make energy more reliable and safe.
Be smart: One new factor increasing your power bill is time-of-use pricing, which charges you extra — as much as 58% more in the winter and 142% more in the summer — for using electricity when you are most likely to use it, between the hours of 1-7pm.
- About 300,000 customers with new smart meters are paying these new rates.
What they're saying: Among Xcel Energy's eight states, Colorado provided the largest increase in profit in the third quarter of 2022. And that's drawing plenty of critics.
- "I think that Xcel Energy is unreasonably, outrageously greedy. They are in this for the profit," says Cindy Schonhaut, the director of the Office of Utility Consumer Advocate.
What's next: Expect to keep paying more. Xcel has signaled they will seek another rate hike this year after regulators pared back their 2022 request.
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