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Colorado Springs Utilities facing huge cost of winter blast

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- While millions of Texans were without power during last week's winter blast, Colorado Springs Utilities reported that all was fine along the Front Range. Now, CSU is planning an emergency meeting Wednesday because the cost of running generators last week had a huge impact on the annual budget for natural gas.

According to a spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities told KRDO that CSU has now spent a good portion of its entire yearly funding for natural gas to power generators.

Natalie Eckhart with CSU says that extreme demand for electricity and natural gas from Feb. 13-16 resulted in a spike in natural gas prices. While CSU had been seeing market prices of about $2.50/Dekatherm, the price skyrocketed to nearly $200/Dekatherm.

At the special finance committee meeting, officials said during a four-day period where those natural gas prices skyrocketed, they spent an estimated $95 million. Typically, it would be between $7-10 million.

But ultimately, the money for the increased cost has to come from somewhere. Eckhart said, "We’re currently reviewing alternatives for how we will proceed with the pass-through of natural gas rates to our customers."

CSU leaders discussed three options on how customers will pay for the increase. The first would raise each customer's natural gas cost by about $11.45 per month from April 2021 until the end of January 2023. The second would raise it by $18.10 per month until April 2022. The third would raise it $36.43 per month but only until the end of the year. In total, customers would have to pay about $300 more just for gas.

Potential cost chart for CSU customers presented at Wednesday's special finance meeting. Costs are subject to change. Deals with electric and gas rate increases.

However, it's not just natural gas costs that went up but also electricity. CSU also released cost estimates for how much customers will have to pay for both rate increases. Option number one would add $48.47 to residential customer's utility bills starting in April and going until the end of the year. Option two, which appears to be the one favored by most, would add $25.03 to each bill until the end of April 2022. Finally, option three would add $16.21 to each bill until the end of January 2023. That total comes to about $385.

The Colorado Springs City Council will decide which timeline to go within March.

This news comes after Gov. Jared Polis applauded an investigation by the Public Utilities Commission to understand utility planning. Polis said he thinks customers should have a choice to either reduce or forego power for a couple of hours "to avoid hundreds of dollars of extra charges in utility costs."

This is a developing story and we're working on getting more information. Check back for updates.

Colorado Springs / News

Andrew McMillan

Andrew is the Digital Content Director for KRDO.com. Learn more about Andrew here.

Chase Golightly

Chase is a reporter and an anchor for our weekend evening newscasts. Learn more about Chase here.

Comments

29 Comments

    1. It really did not seem a like anymore of a “Winter Blast” than we have had in other years and they know it.

      Seems more like an excuse for incompetence in managing Drake and that is what we will really be paying for.

  1. In other news the ColoFornia Springs City Council just approved a StormWater “Tax” increase.

    1. Dont forget we just had a 24% increase in gas rates last November as well. Of course this will be passed onto the rate payers.

      Get ready folks, time to choose do you heat or do you eat…

    2. Thank goodness! Fountain creek is foul and addressing the stormwater situation should have happened decades ago

      1. What we are already paying for storm water problems should be enough.

        I guess you are just a sort of tax increase loving ColoForniaGuy.

    1. Yes, just when America is energy self efficient leave it to the radical marxist democrats to abandon our plentiful domestic resources, natural gas, oil and coal for unproven young technologies not yet ready for prime time.

      All for the man made climate change hoax that will enrich some marxist oligarchs and their sycophants while killing the middle class and further hurting the poor.

  2. Environmentallyillist will be the first ones crying when they lose power during a blizzard.
    Sunshine, rainbows and gentle breezes wont keep you warm.

  3. And just to think we are going to shut down the main power generating plant for the city (Drake), and replace it with “clean energy” consisting mostly of none other than natural gas generators. One little cold spell and CSU exhausted it’s annual budget for natural gas. Wait till Drake is gone, you’re gonna get bent over – get ready!

  4. Don’t sweat it folks we know how much Trump digs coal. He’ll get us back on track when he returns to office in March. Just taking a break in Mar-a-largo for a spell apparently.

    1. Yeah, not sure if you got the memo but Lunch Bucket, Blue Collar, No Vaccine. No Coal Joe got carted into the White House a month ago. He was immediately directed to hold a pen and scribble on many sheets of fancy paper. One sheet of paper killed a major Oil & Gas delivery system already in existence, namely the Keystone Pipeline. It immediately screwed Americans in the quest for “sustainability” and “renewable” energy with NO plan. In other words, President Donald Trump is NO LONGER President. It’s Alzheimer Joe’s Show. At some point the Dems will have to take responsibility and stop beating a dead horse.

      1. Have you ever heard a Dem take responsibility? They would rather blame the American People for their failures. They will always find someone to blame.

  5. The city used to purchase coal on a 1-3 year contract. Coal trains would roll down from wyoming. We had mountains of coal piled up at drake (and nixon before the expensive conversion). They’d just feed the coal in, we were toasty warm, no worries about supply or cost. What are they doing with the birdsal plant? Is it covered with solar panels yet? Drake was running fine until they cut back on maintenance some years ago to”save money”. We can put a river on mars but apparently can’t come up with a filter for the coal plants. Whatever….

    1. I agree and remember also. The quest for no smog rates higher now with those in charge, than the quest for heat and well being of citizens. We are being run by bought off morons and people need to speak the truth.

  6. And by the way, I have heard we have enough coal reserves in this country to last 350 years. Are china and russia planning to decommission their coal plants? How many coal plants are they going to bring on line over the next few years? Paris Climate Accord for them? Ya… No!

  7. And by the way, I have heard we have enough coal reserves in this country to last 350 years. Are china and russia planning to decommission their coal plants? How many coal plants are they going to bring on line over the next few years? Paris Climate Accord for them? Ya… No! Drake can burn wood too. Remember all the dead wood from the black forest fire?

    1. Drake can not burn wood. It is not a stove. The plant is not set up for wood, it is set up for a coal dust blast furnace. They crush the cola down to a grit and then shoot it into the burner for a better combustion and hotter heat. Trying to grind up wood and blow wood chips in would not get the temperatures needed to run.

  8. Be nice to have a reporter actually look into this instead of just reposting the press releases. Why aren’t all the available units at Drake not on line? Steam is only coming from one of them. What happens when we commit to temporary natural gas generators and shut down all of Drake? Why don’t we hedge buy the gas like they did several years ago? Does Drake really need to go or are we just making the downtown partnership happy so condominiums can be built on the Drake site?

  9. Just reading this burns my ass. Just yesterday they said they want to increase the BS Stormwater fee to $7.00 per month and now it looks like I will have to pay an additional $40.00 or more a month for the next couple of years. I keep my thermostat low, and I wear a sweatshirt when it’s cold in my house. I am not living with a wealth of heat by any means and now I have to pay even more when I try to keep my bills low. A lot of people are out of work right now, how do expect them to pay for this??? I am a COS native and I am really beginning to hate this town. It’s a dump and you hear all the time about how they have excess revenue and what to do with it, etc. How about putting all that excess money into this fund and save your customers who barely can pay their utility bills as it is and stop giving yourselves bonuses. Talk about screwing your customers. And like all the other commenters, wait until they go “green” and see how much we pay then.

  10. Here’s my plan. I’m going to call my local fireplace/chimney sweep, have my chimney and wood stove insert inspected. I haven’t ever fired it up in the over 20 years I have lived here, but I think it is time for me to go back (did it as a kid) to burning wood. I’m also going to buy a bunch of candles. How did we think this imaginary teletubbie wind power was going to end? Perhaps, I’ll buy a generator, too, and burn gas. What happens when we have another storm or several more within the time frame that CSU raises the rates for just this one storm? If gas went from $2.50 to $200 per unit, that’s an 80 times increase. If a person spent $65 normally, his gas bill increased by 80 times would be $5200!

  11. So the current administration has killed natural gas drilling and exploration in the USA. So the price of natural gas is going up. Now we have to import natural gas, which is expensive.
    So here is why we are here now.
    -Biden kills production
    -Biden vilifies coal and reinstated environmental guidelines that are crazy, just to encourage wind and solar.
    -People whine and cry for Drake to be shut down when it is our cheapest form of power and with the new scrubber on it….. it is very comparable to NG in emissions if not less.

    So get ready. Everyone utility bills will be going up. kinda nice since we are in a pandemic and many people are barely scrapping by.

  12. Sure, drake isn’t designed to burn wood, but it can and did! I’m sure it wasn’t efficient, and the won’t do it again. I know people who worked there when they did, after the black forest fire.

    1. Drake has never burned wood in the last 20 years. I am pretty sure they have never in the life of the plant burned wood. It not a stove you can stoke with whatever you have on hand. You should educate yourself on power plant operation. I use to work at Drake.

  13. Rejoice Colorado Springs For letting City Of CS do to is what happened in Texas. . When the green deal is enacted in CS and Drake Coal Power plant is shut down, only very expensive gas, frozen turbines and snow covered slow energy solar will heat you in the winter. Where is the outrage?

    High Gas prices is on its way when everyone needs it because the green energy is not dependable or cheap.

  14. Those with the power don’t care about you. As long as they get their kick back and look good to be a woke greens, is all they care about. Colorado Sorings is being take over by idiots and thieves in power to change our once great city. Stop the insanity!

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