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CSU says utility bill relief coming soon

If you live in Colorado Springs, your final utility bill of 2021 likely gave you a case of sticker shock.

Both natural gas and electricity rates are especially high.

However, Colorado Springs Utilities this week told KRDO it expects two rate decreases in the next few months.

There are two reasons the rates are so high right now.

Back in February, a massive winter storm crippled much of the energy infrastructure in Texas and other southern states, temporarily driving up natural gas prices to extraordinary levels.

Having to purchase natural gas at such a high price resulted in a huge expense for CSU, which spent more than $100 million dollars on natural gas over just a few days.

CSU’s Chief Financial Officer Tristan Gearhart says the utility was forced to recover the expense through a special rate increase.

“Ultimately, we just have to pass those on to customers,” he said.

In November, the Utilities Board voted to raise rates again, due to a projected spike in the cost of natural gas this winter, the heart of heating season.

According to data from CSU that compares a typical bill from November 1 2020 to November 15 2021, the typical residential customer is now paying 19% more for electricity than a year ago, and 84% more for natural gas.

The result for the average customer is an additional $51 on their monthly bill, which is about 21.5% higher.

However, because cold temperatures arrived later than expected, the anticipated spike in natural gas prices over the past two months wasn't nearly as high as expected.

"What was predicted in that forecast was a colder than average winter.  And what we've seen is a warmer than average winter, which has lead to more supply that's available,” explains Gearhart.

More supply means a lower price.

So at the next Utilities Board meeting on January 19, members are expected to approve a rate decrease.

As for recovering the cost from that costly February freeze, that's expected to be complete in April, which should lead to another decrease beginning May 1.

The two decreases should bring rates back to a more reasonable level.

Gearhart says they don’t know the exact savings customers can expect just yet.

“We don't have that dialed in exactly right now.  Within a couple of weeks, as we get before the Utilities Board and the city council, we should have those exact numbers to show how much we're coming down,” he explained.

So while the next few months could still be painful, at least some relief is coming soon.

CSU also wanted to remind customers that extremely cold temperatures like the ones expected this weekend tend to drive up utility bills as well.

Lowering a thermostat a few degrees and limiting the use of major gas and electric appliances could save homeowners a lot of money.

Bart Bedsole

Bart is the evening anchor for KRDO. Learn more about Bart here.

Comments

14 Comments

  1. Have better long term solutions. Even out your investments. Quit hedging your funds. Quit banking on the future. Live in the here and now. Get real.

  2. This seems to be a recurring pattern, raise gas prices in the winter months, overcharge, then lower gas prices just in time for the heating season to end. We used to buy gas futures for winter during times when natural gas was at it lowest. We stopped doing that several years ago…

    1. Actually, the price goes up at the first hint of a fuel shortage, but then it takes forever to go back down to the “normal” rates. You’re right that they fluctuate with the seasons.

  3. Great comments so far. Executive pay should be charted with rate trends somewhere. We all know what’s really going on. Nice try, though.

  4. What’s missing from these comments is the blame that lies squarely on the face of City Council. Although heating has always used Nat gas, your ever shortsighted Council sitting as utilities board decided to shut down coal electricity production at Drake 10 years earlier than originally scheduled, now all your power is generated through natural gas, all the while the good ole reliable and cheap coal (which actually Drake was amazingly clean burning coal for all you greenies) burning Drake generators have been taken off line. Failure of leadership at its finest!

    1. Oh, and age this comment. You’re not done yet. Once Drake is fully decommissioned, the taxpayers will fund millions of dollars in land remediation just in time for the City to sell the now clean, prime piece of land to a local developer for dirt cheap. Revisit this comment in a few years after you’ve been raked over the coals (no pun).

    2. Giant liberal scam on COS residents. We can’t forget the tons of toxic Tesla batteries purchased to backup the new unreliable coal replacement.

    3. Welcome to New Colorado Springs.
      .

      Our grandkids are screwed.
      .

      Thanks City Council! #sarcasm

  5. Did the CSU CEO from LA, California get a big bonus on our dime? That’s going to cost COS residents a few bucks per bill. It all adds up.

  6. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    Don’t count your chicks before the hatch.
    I’ll believe it when it shows up on the bill.

  7. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    Don’t count your chicks before the hatch.
    I’ll believe it when it shows up on the bill.

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