Consumer Advisory: Xcel Energy’s pending electric rate case

edited April 2016 in Announcements

Below is an announcement from the Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel regarding a rate increase that Xcel (aka Public Service Company of Colorado) is trying to impose. Our residential electric bills have basically two components: 1) a flat monthly charge (currently $6.75 for a residential customer) and; 2) a charge per each kilowatt hour (kWh) used.

Xcel's proposed increase will do little to raise "average" rates, but it will lower the price per kWh and raise the flat, minimum monthly charge. Doing so punishes folks who have invested in clean energy and efficiency and rewards those who wastefully use a lot of energy.

Xcel proposes to raise the flat monthly service charge from $6.75 per month to $6.93, but it also wants to impose a new "grid charge" that varies with usage. If you use 501 to 1000 kWhs per month, the unavoidable "grid charge" will be $14.56 per month. If you use greater than 1,401 kWhs per month, the unavoidable "grid charge" will be $44.79 per month. The "grid charge" will be added to the $6.93 monthly service charge.

Most folks in the clean energy and energy efficiency fields oppose Xcel's proposed increase. The increase would lengthen payback times on future clean energy and efficiency investments and, as previously stated, would punish folks who have already invested in clean energy and efficiency, while rewarding those who wastefully use a lot of energy.

It helps a lot if consumers file comments with the Public Utility Commission in opposititon to the proposed rate structure. It's very easy to do online. Here's a sample and simple online submission that you could use:

"Dear PUC:

I respectfully oppose Xcel Energy's proposed rate increase and especially its proposed rate structure in Docket No. 16AL-0048E. The price of electrical energy should be mostly allocated to the kWhs and not to flat monthly rate increases or newly-created "grid charges." Rate increases allocated to the price of the kWh benefit society by encouraging and promoting efficiency and clean energy. Doing so is also fair and just for those who have made past investments in efficiency and clean energy.

Raising flat rates and lowering kWh prices is bad public policy. Please do not allow Xcel to do so.

Thank you for considering my thoughts."


Here's the Office of Consumer Counsel's announcement:

What consumers should know.

DENVER (April 27, 2016) – The Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) at the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) advises consumers to take five minutes to understand upcoming proposed rate changes from Xcel Energy.

WHAT

Last year, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved an increase to Xcel Energy’s electric rates. Xcel recently filed a companion case before the PUC to “divide up” that rate increase among its “classes” of customers, for example residential, small business, large business, etc.

WHAT IT MEANS

Xcel’s proposal determines how each group of customers will be charged for electricity in the future. A key aspect of this proposal is a new monthly fixed charge to your electric bills for “grid use.” A fixed charge is a charge on your bill that you pay regardless of how much electricity you use in any given month. In addition, the proposal includes modifications to the “per unit” cost of electricity used, which is a variable charge depending on the amount of electricity you use each month. The OCC encourages consumers to get informed about how these proposed changes may impact their monthly bill.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Members of the public may file public comments regarding utilities cases through the Public Utilities Commission:

Online: file a public comment with the PUC on a public On-line Comment Form at: http://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/real/CCTS_oWEB.comment_form
Written: fax comments to the PUC at (303) 894-2532. Mail: To send comments by U.S. post (handwritten comments are accepted), address them to:

Department of Regulatory Agencies Public Utilities Commission 1560 Broadway, Suite 250 Denver, CO 80202 In any form of correspondence, please include the specific proceeding or docket number (field located near the bottom of the online form): 16AL-0048E

PUBLIC COMMENT HEARINGS

At public hearings, anyone may speak on the case before the Administrative Law Judge. Such comments are transcribed by a court reporter and are part of the record of the case. Public hearings are scheduled as follows:

Thursday, June 9, 2016 4 p.m. and continuing until concluded, but in no event no later than 6 p.m. Public Utilities Commission Hearing Room 1560 Broadway, Suite 250 Denver, CO 80202

Thursday, June 16, 2016 4 p.m. and continuing until concluded, but in no later than 6 p.m. City Auditorium 250 North Fifth Street Grand Junction, CO 81501

In the comment section, please express your views on Xcel’s proposed new rates. This is your opportunity provide input to the PUC on how you will be charged for electricity in the future. To read more about the details of the case go to: https://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/efi/EFI.Show_Docket?p_session_id=&p_docket_id=16AL-0048E

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The Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), a division within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), represents residential, small business, and agricultural utility consumers as a class in electric and natural gas proceedings before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The OCC does not regulate; it advises and advocates on behalf of consumers. The OCC helps consumers by lowering or eliminating proposed utility rate increases and by ensuring that utility rates, regulations and policies are more equitable for residential, small business, and agricultural consumers.

Comments

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  • Wow, almost 7 bucks a month !! You should be thankful you don't have Sangre De Christo electric like we do, they charge a $27.00 per month "service availability charge" to every residential bill and I understand from their rate disclosure, it's $118.00 per month for a business.

    Be thankful you have Xcel....

  • I think effective 4/1/16, Sangre de Cristo just raised the flat rate to $31.05 per month for General Residential Service, with 12.4 cents per kWh. Better if $10 per month and $.134 or $.144 per kWh or something like that, esp. if you blew extra insulation into your walls or ceiling in the last 5 years.

  • Thanks Jeff,

    And I notice another "clause" in the disclosure:

    "Consumers outside the corporate limits of towns, cities, or bona fide mobile home courts shall be subject to the monthly service availability charge whether service is connected or disconnected, as long as service is available."

    The way I read that is you're on the hook to pay them whether or not you're actually using their electricity. Interesting that the bulk (I don't have figures, just knowledge that they are a rural provider) of their customers are outside of the corporate limits of town, cities, or mobile home parks (and what MH parks have to do with it and why they should be exempt escapes me)

    Unbelievable. A mandate that you pay a business whether you use their product or not, simply because it's available, and if that's not enough, there's no competing provider to provide an alternative supply of electricity.

    There oughta be a law....

  • I didn't see that clause. Unprecedented, as far as I know.

  • edited May 2016

    Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association has put out an information page on what Xcel is trying to do, and asks people who support clean energy to act: coseia.org/coseia-wants-coloradans-to-shape-our-energy-future/

    Reference docket number "16AL-0048E" "Xcel" and "Electric" in the comments page at PUC.

  • This case (and 2 others) settled on August 15. The large increases to the monthly service charges sought by Xcel were abandoned. The thing that will have the largest impact on most Xcel customers is the new "Time of Use" rates (that will at first be voluntary but will phase to mandatory by 2020) , as explained in this excerpt from an August 17 Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association e-mail:

    "Time of Use Rates

    A trial of residential time of use rates will begin early next year, allowing residential customers to "opt in'' initially, with the current plan calling for the rate to transition to the default rate in 2020, while allowing for review and evaluation. The rates would be contingent on approval of Xcel's recently-filed proposal to roll out new advanced meters, and on a review of how well the trial period worked.

    Time Periods:

    On Peak: 2 PM through 6 PM (weekday, non-holiday) Off Peak: 9 PM through 9 AM Shoulder: All Other Hours

    The Proposed Rates are as follows:

    Note: Adjustments including the ECA adjustment which varies by quarter but has been in the $0.02 -$0.03/kWh range also add to the rates below.

                                Summer                     Winter
    

    On Peak: $0.13814 $0.08880 Shoulder: $0.08420 $0.05413 Off Peak: $0.04440 $0.04440"

  • Sorry if I'm a little dense, but please explain to me what this means :

    On Peak: 2 PM through 6 PM (weekday, non-holiday) Off Peak: 9 PM through 9 AM Shoulder: All Other Hours

    "Shoulder" So, that's on peak or off peak ? What rate is being billed ? I'd bet money that it's not a "bargain" rate

    When I lived in Summit County at one rental 1 br condo unit, it had a "demand" based metering system, led to a $1000.00 bill one month before we knew how to run the house "electrically wise" to not use on high peak times.

  • Sorry - the text typed in clear and organized but got jumbled when posted.

    I've attached a .pdf with Xcel's new kWh rates being phased in from 2017 to 2020. Hopefully, interested people can access it. Big uptick on summer afternoons.

    Recall, Xcel was at first trying to raise the monthly flat charge and lower the kWh price. I think the flat monthly charges (currently $6.75 a month) will remain the same, according to COSEIA e-mail.

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