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$114 million electricity rate hike to pay for Xcel’s private jet use, wholesaling mistakes

topher, 2012-04-03

rate increase to pay for utility mistakesColorado’s largest utility, Xcel energy, just reached an agreement with regulators to increase consumer utility rates by $114 million over the next 3 years.  This will tack an additional 5.5% onto home and business owner’s electric bills.  

According to Xcel, as explained in a Boulder Daily Camera article, more natural gas use (and the accompanying fracking, pollution, and health issues) will help dull the pain of the electricity price hikes.  The article reads: “Lower prices for natural gas, one of the main fuels for generating electricity, should help offset the impact of the rate hikes, the company said.”

For me personally, since I generate 100% of my home’s electricity with a solar array installed last year by Lighthouse Solar, there is a bright side to the increase: my investment in renewable energy will pay off that much faster.

And, since I live in the hills at an altitude above the air pollution caused by fracking in the Front Range, I am not immediately concerned about the health of my loved ones.  

However, if I lived anywhere between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, this news would make me furious.  If I was a community leader in the Front Range, I’d try to get my entire town to invest in solar electricity.  

And get this: Xcel is already overproducing energy because of a contract with Black Hills Energy that is not being renewed; and to compensate for the extra cost of buying extra energy, with the rate increase the company is planning to buy more electricity produced by natural gas - as well as use over a million dollars to cover corporate private jet travel.  

Let me get this straight: the utility is buying too much electricity, so they need to increase electric rates and buy more natural gas electricity so electric rates don’t increase even more.  Sounds like the old poem that goes something like, “She swallowed the spider to catch the fly...”

The article quotes Leslie Glustrom, a private citizen who sums it up:  "But here we are with rates going up to pay for Xcel's mistake in its wholesale electricity business."

It all begs the question: What are you buying when you plug in?

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