Electricity, natural gas rates going up this summer | SteamboatToday.com

Electricity, natural gas rates going up this summer

Yampa Valley Electric Association and Atmos Energy rates are increasing.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

Overhead expenses in the energy sector are up, and soon consumers can expect those costs to be reflected in their monthly bills.

Yampa Valley Electric Association published the results of a cost-of-service study, which recommended rate increases to be implemented in June, which would be reflected on July 1 bills.

“All the co-ops operate on a very, very thin margin,” said Mona Neeley, director of communications for the Colorado Rural Electric Association. “No one’s gonna walk away with a bunch of money. It’s all owned by the people it serves.”

The new rates will affect the rate per kilowatt hour, or kWh and the baseline system access cost, which is a flat monthly charge that varies depending on the service type.

The rate for small general service will adjust from $0.0945 per kWh to $0.10192 per kWh, rising about 8%. According to a YVEA newsletter, a typical small general service member using 913 kWh will see a bill increase of $11.27 a month in 2022.

The rate for medium general service will go from $0.09055 to $0.09639, increasing by about 6%. A typical medium general service member who uses 1,654 kWh will see a bill increase of $21.16 per month.

The system access cost for small general service will go from $34.75 to $39.25, increasing by about 13%.

The system access cost of medium general service will go from $37.45 to $48.95, increasing by about 31%.

The YVEA is a nonprofit energy co-op that purchases electricity wholesale from Xcel Energy and distributes it. The cost of electricity from Xcel Energy is reflected in consumers’ monthly rates.

Xcel Energy is increasing its rates by 8% year over year to help fund its $1 billion transmission infrastructure plan. Almost two-thirds of all YVEA expenses go toward purchasing wholesale power.

According to YVEA, inflation, higher costs of materials used for infrastructure, higher gas prices, higher shipping costs and higher payroll costs all factored into the decision to increase rates.

YVEA also says it is making significant investments in wildfire mitigation, including tree-trimming projects, installing more electronic reclosers and upgrades to their system so they can switch to “fire protection mode” as quickly as needed.

The last time the electric co-op increased rates was in 2020, and another increase is anticipated in the middle of 2023 to match a proposed rate by Xcel Energy.

“Each of us here at YVEA realizes that our dollar isn’t going as far as it once was,” read the newsletter. “We recognize the difficulties and hardships that a rate increase can bring to our members. However, we also know that keeping our system up to date is incredibly important.”

Atmos Energy is also adjusting its rates.

Effective since the beginning of June, Atmos Energy is also adjusting its Gas Demand Side Management Cost Adjustment Factor (G-DSMCA).

The G-DSMCA is a modification meant to recoup costs associated with demand side management (DSM) energy efficiency strategies, as required by the Public Utilities Commission.

On July’s natural gas bills, residential consumers can expect this modifier to almost double. The base residential rate will go from $.21 to $.41, while the volumetric rate per 100 cubic feet, or ccf, will go from $0.00345 to $0.00658.

Commercial consumers, however, will see their G-DSMCA modifier go down, as the base commercial rate will go from $0.81 to $0.47, with the volumetric rate per ccf going from $0.00316 to $0.00185.

In February of this year, Atmos Energy added an Extraordinary Gas Cost Recovery Rider to offset the financial damages caused by Winter Storm Uri, which slammed Texas and other portions of the United States and Mexico from Feb. 13–17, 2021.

The recovery rider adds a $0.06809 per ccf cost to monthly natural gas bills, and will continue through Jan. 31, 2024. According to Atmos Energy, the expected impact of the recovery rider is an increase of 7-8% on monthly bills. The goal is to recover about $11 million over the life of the rate increase.

The recovery rider does not apply to income-qualified customers.

Both YVEA and Atmos Energy encourage customers to reach out if having trouble paying their utility bills, and offer income based utility plans for those who qualify. To reach the YVEA dial 970-879-1160, and to reach Atmos Energy dial 1-866-HEAT-HELP.

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