Will Xcel Energy’s plan for natural gas leave Colorado customers on the hook? State regulators to decide. | SummitDaily.com

Will Xcel Energy’s plan for natural gas leave Colorado customers on the hook? State regulators to decide.

Xcel seeks $188.6 million rate increase over 3 years; critics argue utility is spending too much on fossil fuels

Judith Kohler
Denver Post
Regulators are considering Xcel Energy’s proposed natural gas rate hike of $188.6 million. Critics say it will be too much of a burden for ratepayers. In this 2010 file photo, workers install a section of natural gas pipeline in Berthoud.
Craig F. Walker/Denver Post archive

As state regulators consider Xcel Energy-Colorado’s request for a $188.6 million natural-gas rate increase, advocates are warning that new investments by the utility in gas facilities will leave customers stuck paying big bills for energy they won’t need.

Natural gas will be the new coal, critics contend. They say the move to renewable energy and running buildings with all electricity means expanding natural gas pipelines and plants now will leave Xcel’s customers paying for facilities they won’t need just a few years down the road.

That scenario already is playing out with coal. Xcel plans to close its coal-fired power plants earlier than scheduled and will seek to recover its costs for the facilities from ratepayers.

“We’ve got a billion dollars worth of coal plants that are stranded and now Xcel is trying to do the same thing on their gas system,” Leslie Glustrom, a Boulder resident with the nonprofit Clean Energy Action, said during a recent hearing of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The coal plants are considered “stranded assets” because they will be closed earlier than planned when they were designed, financed and built. In common practice for regulated utilities, Xcel is seeking approval to tap ratepayers to help cover its costs for those assets.

Read the full story at DenverPost.com.

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