COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- Colorado Springs Utilities is considering another rate increase, including a 30% rate hike on natural gas rates for residential users.
Just like the last hike Colorado Springs Utilities implemented, the utility is blaming rising market prices for the proposed increase.
Wednesday's meeting was just a discussion on the change, with the formal vote on the rate hike is set for later this month.
But board members acknowledged the hike is almost all but certain.
"The fact is, we honestly need the money," Bill Murray, a Colorado Springs City Councilman, and by virtue, a Colorado Springs Utilities board member, said. "We need to be honest with you. All the costs are going up, you all know it."
The proposed rate hike could soon add another $16-$18 to the average bill.
The reason is twofold. One, because of uncollected costs by Springs utilities over time, and two, because of record-high natural gas prices.
"We've really seen the highest natural gas prices than we've seen really since the 2000s," rate adjustor Scott Shirola continued. "Significant increases even from this last winter in December."
Colorado Springs Utilities has found itself $18 million dollars down in unpaid costs from the past year, an amount that can largely be chalked up to unexpected market fluctuations. The utility needs to recoup the money somehow.
Now its board is considering two options. One that would collect the money faster with a slightly higher rate for electricity, and another that carries less impact on electricity per bill.
City Council President Tom Strand is one of those in favor of the lower rate, specifically because of seniors on fixed incomes. He met with some at Silver Key Senior Services recently.
"They're all in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. They were in wheelchairs and walkers. They saw my name tag and they came up to me and they said, 'please, don't raise our utility rates more than you have to.'"
The utility is a not-for-profit, just passing on fuel costs to customers.
But given the current economy, the board will need to ask itself, how much is too much so quickly?