Xcel agrees to lower rate hike request
December 20, 2005
DENVER Xcel Energy on Tuesday refiled its natural gas base rate hike that it agreed to lower by $12 million after opposition from consumer advocates and a group that helps low income families pay for heating.Under the agreement filed with the Public Utilities Commission, average residential bills would increase by about 73 cents per month, while commercial customers would see a $8.13 increase. Hearings are scheduled for Jan. 3 and 4 and if approved would become effective in February.Residential fixed metering and billing portion of bills would increase from $8.54 to $10.12 per month with the delivery charge decreasing from 0.0928 cents per therm to 0.08052 cents per therm.Commercial customers would see fixed metering and billing jump from $15.38 to $20.23 per month, with the delivery charge increasing from 0.08708 per therm to 0.09666 per therm.The increases are separate from the actual cost of natural gas, which is passed on dollar-for-dollar to consumers. Under a separate proposal filed last week with the PUC, natural gas commodity prices in January would increase from $1.03 a therm, up from 87 cents a therm this month. A therm equals 100,000 British thermal units.The agreement on its base rate, reached with the Office of Consumer Counsel, Energy Outreach Colorado, which collects and distributes donations, and others, would increase the utility’s revenue by $22.5 million dollars, down from Xcel’s previous $34 million request.In a statement, Xcel vice president for policy development, Fred Stoffel, said the settlement allows the company to recover costs from its delivery system.”While raising the metering and billing charges to our customers is always difficult, particularly when natural gas commodity rates are so high, these changes are necessary to recover our large fixed investments in Colorado,” he said.A message left after hours at the Office of Consumer Counsel was not immediately returned.