AARP Eye Center
AARP Colorado’s opposition to a proposed $188.6 million hike in base rates for natural gas by Xcel Energy resulted in a Public Utilities Commission decision to reduce the rate hike to $64.2 million, a savings of nearly $124 million for Xcel customers in Colorado.
Thousands of AARP members opposed Xcel’s proposed hike and submitted thousands of postal cards to the PUC. AARP Colorado also ran an aggressive ad campaign to get Xcel customers to go online, call and write the PUC to oppose the rate hike.
The PUC approved a $64.2 million allowance for the energy giant that is fixture on the Forbes 500 list. That is about 34 percent of what Xcel wanted to charge consumers. Utility rates are an essential pocketbook issue for Colorado residents 50-plus and their families, many of whom struggle to pay their utility bills along with other household expenses like food and medicine – especially as inflation pushes prices higher.
“AARP Colorado members and our advocacy volunteers fought hard against these unfair and unreasonable rate increases and let the PUC and Xcel know that enough is enough,” Bob Murphy, AARP Colorado State Director, said. “I believe that the community activism made the difference in this case, but we will continue to fight against future increases proposed by Xcel.”
After repeated rate increases, Xcel Energy’s rate request would have asked residential customers to shoulder more of the company’s financial burden. Xcel’s proposal called for residential customers to pay about $4.15 month in its natural gas base rate starting in November 2022, $1.83 in 2023, and $2.15 in 2024. Now, the three-year timetable is off, and consumers will pay just over $2 a month for this rate increase.
While AARP Colorado had fought for a complete rejection of Xcel Energy’s proposed increase, we consider the lower rate to be a big win for all Colorado customers. Residents on fixed incomes and families that can least afford it will still get stuck paying a disproportionate share of the price. But we will always fight rate hikes that threaten the financial stability of our members and the most vulnerable Coloradans.
In fact, consumers should expect about a 50 percent increase in December as part of quarterly base rate known as the gas commodity adjustment. This payment is a pass-through to customers in their utility bills.
Xcel Energy in Colorado has hiked utility bills for residential electric and gas customers year after year, filing one rate case after another – a practice called “pancaking” that stacks costs onto customers. About 1.4 million Coloradans count on Xcel Energy for natural gas. Many also count on Xcel for electricity; these customers face increased bills for both electric and natural gas. Find out more at action.aarp.org/CoUtilities.
_Angela Cortez is AARP Colorado Director of Communications