PROMO Energy - Natural Gas Flame Stove Burner - iStock - FotoCuisinette

PUC filings show Colorado energy bills will increase this winter

© iStock - FotoCuisinette

Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Some Colorado consumers can expect to see a significant increase to the energy bills this winter, according to recent filings with the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC). 

As energy demand creeps up during the colder months, several utility providers in the state are still seeking to recoup costs resulting from Winter Storm Uri and rising global energy costs caused by supply chain disruptions. These utility providers filed comments with PUC concerning their planned rate increases as the agency considers cost recovery requests from the utilities. 

PUC said Wednesday that Colorado consumers will likely see heating conservation notices this winter and in “subsequent heating seasons” as energy prices remain elevated when compared to a year ago. 

The Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCO), which is owned by Xcel Energy, told PUC that it estimates its customers will see an average bill increase of 37% until March 2022. This estimate was revised down from an original 71.5% level that was submitted in late November. 

“This is still a large increase, and [PSCO] has provided proactive messaging to its Residential customers through a number of channels such as direct email messaging, social media posts, and postings on the Company’s website to alert them of higher expected natural gas costs,” PSCO wrote in its comments to PUC, dated December 10. 

PUC will hold evidentiary hearings for PSCO’s cost recovery plan between Jan. 26 and 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Feb. 3 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m, according to the agency’s website

Atmos Energy also told PUC that its residential customers may see their bills increase by as much as 32% by March 2022. Its small commercial and business clients may see an even steeper 42% increase, the company’s filing said. 

Atmos added that it has begun sending its customers information about Energy Outreach Colorado, a nonprofit that provides financial aid for utility bill payments, in their monthly bills. 

PUC allowed Atmos to recover more than $23.5 million in extraordinary gas costs because of the winter storm. However, households participating in the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and Percentage of Income Payment Programs (PIPP) are exempt from the cost recovery.