Electricity rates in Colorado are on the rise

Here’s a look at how average electricity rates have changed in Colorado historically and how they may continue to change in the future. Figures provided by Xcel Energy to the city of Boulder in December.

40 percent rate increase from 2000 to 2010

34 percent projected rate increase from 2010 to 2020

34 percent projected rate increase from 2020 to 2030

The information that was provided by Xcel shows residential energy rates increasing from an average of 10.7 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to 19.1 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2030.

Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said the bulk of the increase can be attributed to inflation.

Xcel’s state-mandated plan to close some Front Range coal-fired plants and replace them with natural gas-fired units is also partly to blame, Stutz said. Xcel estimates the switch from coal to gas will cost ratepayers about 2 percent more annually over the next decade.

Underestimated hike ?

Even though the utility is projecting rate increases of 34 percent per decade, Xcel may be underestimating future rates, according to Boulder resident Leslie Glustrom, a longtime utility watchdog who has intervened in multiple Xcel dockets before the Public Utilities Commission, including the most recent requests to raise rates further.

Glustrom argues that Xcel’s future estimate for coal costs is far too low.

“Their modeling typically assumes coal costs will go up less than 2 percent a year,” she said. “But between 2004 and 2009, Xcel’s coal costs went up about 10 percent a year. … With a system that’s 60 percent coal, give or take, the cost of coal has an impact.”

Why go Solar?

Savings every month. When a solar electric system powers your home so you use considerably less electricity from the public utility.

Hedge against rate hikes. Offset energy prices and unpredictable rate hikes by generating your own power for decades.

Protect the environment. Most electricity is generated by burning coal that emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Solar electricity comes from a clean and renewable source —
the sun.

Reliable power. Solar modules generate power for decades and are backed with a limited
25-30 year warranties.

Increased property value. Solar is a smart upgrade that makes your home more desirable and valuable.

The math is actually pretty simple. If your monthly electric bill is more than $100, you could save money every month with a solar electric system. Even if you finance the cost of
your system, the loan payment plus your new, lower electric bill will be less than your previous utility bill.

Some homeowners may even earn back two to three times the cost. A lower electric bill and a system that pays for itself are just two reasons why solar is a smart investment.

Solar gives you protection against electricity rate hikes

Imagine that you had been able to lock in automobile gas prices in 2004. You’d not only be paying less than $2 a gallon today, but also for decades to come. With every gas price
increase, you’d be saving even more money. That’s exactly what you’re doing with the cost of electricity when you install a solar electric system.

Because solar installation is a fixed cost, savings increase as utility rates rise. Essentially, you’re building in a hedge against future rate increases. And rising utility rates are definitely something you can count on.

Solar comes with big financial incentives

Federal tax credits and utility rebates can help pay for a substantial percentage of your system and installation. Depending on where you live, there may be incentives available
from your Utility.

No changes in how you use electricity

Solar electricity works exactly the same as the electricity you buy from the utility company. You turn on lights, plug in lamps and power appliances the same way you do right now. In fact, if you didn’t see solar modules on the roof, you’d never notice any difference —except a lower electric bill.

Solar electricity has been in use for more than 50 years and is proven to be highly dependable. Unlike other methods used to generate electricity, solar doesn’t rely on moving
parts that can wear out. Most modules come with a 25-year limited warranty, and some systems installed more than 40 years ago are still performing.

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