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AARP pushes back against Xcel Energy over rate hike

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- AARP Colorado says its efforts fighting back against a proposed natural gas rate hike by Xcel Energy resulted in a lower increase for customers.

Xcel Energy recently proposed a $202 million rate hike for natural gas, a service they provide to residents in Pueblo and other southern Colorado communities. Soon after the proposal, AARP claims they started hearing from thousands of members who said they were fed up with the increases.

"This most recent gas rate case came about in January, and we just thought 'enough is enough,'” said Angela Cortez, Director of Communications for AARP Colorado.

Xcel claims the increase was warranted, saying in a statement to KRDO:

"This rate proposal supports essential investments that improve system reliability, strengthen safety and inspection programs, and take meaningful steps to operate the cleanest natural gas system possible, benefiting all our customers. The proposal also supports our growing communities as we build the system to deliver service to those new homes and businesses. Some of these investments and projects have already been completed and are benefitting our customers."

Xcel Energy

Despite that, AARP Colorado still felt the cost was way too high. They blasted out a warning to all of their members through an ad campaign and tear-off postcards.

What they got in return, was overwhelming support.

"Members sent back about 9,000 cards that we delivered to the PUC opposing this rate hike,” said Cortez.

The PUC is the Public Utility Commission, which regulates companies like Xcel.

On Tuesday, the PUC granted Xcel a rate increase. However, they only agreed to $64.2 million -- $138 million less than what the energy company requested.

“It's not what we wanted," said Cortez. "I will say we wanted a complete rejection of the rate hike, but it is quite a bit lower than it would have been. So we consider it a win, not necessarily for AARP, but for all Coloradans, especially those who struggle on a day-to-day basis.”

Xcel Energy says the Colorado Public Utilities Commission agreed with much of their request in this gas rate case.

However, the most significant differences between their request and the approved proposal were "the requirements as part of capital steps requested in 2023 and 2024 of around $81.5 million and a reduced return on the rate base by $43.7 million."

Xcel says they are committed to doing all they can to keep costs low for customers while delivering the safe, reliable energy they depend on.

Starting in November, natural gas rates for the average residential customer will increase by $2.90 (or 2.9%) per month and average small commercial customers by $12.95 (or 3.1%).

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Mallory Anderson


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