Xcel Energy’s winter forecast is for higher heating bills starting in October, but about 35% lower than last winter, when high natural gas prices and cold weather led to the doubling and tripling of some Coloradans’ monthly charges.
Xcel customers will see an increase in gas bills heading into October due to rising fuel prices, the company said in a statement. The average residential monthly bill will be about 15% higher October through December.
The average small business will pay roughly 16.7% more per month starting in October.
If the temperatures are normal October through December, Xcel said the average residential natural gas bill is expected to be $85.82 per month, compared with $130.90 for the last three months of 2022.
The average small business customer’s monthly gas bill for October through December is expected to be about $356.50, compared with $564.57 for the same period in 2022, a decline of 37%.
Xcel Energy said it has submitted its proposed quarterly fuel price adjustments to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The proposed adjustment for the fourth quarter is $4.71 per dekatherm, which measures the heating value of a specific volume of natural gas.
The level in place Oct. 1, 2022, was $10.09 per dekatherm, Xcel said. The fuel costs, including the cost of wholesale natural gas, are passed through to customers without markup, according to the utility.
The price of natural gas was $8.81 per million BTU in August 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This August, the price was $2.58 per million BTU.
Last year, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission held a hearing on the soaring natural gas prices. Typical gas bills paid by customers of Xcel and other Colorado utilities jumped about 75%, the PUC staff said. The biggest reason was the escalating wholesale price of natural gas.
A joint special legislative committee formed in February to investigate why heating bills shot up so much and explore ways to blunt the impact of future price swings on customers. A bill approved by the committee and signed into law includes short- and long-term measures.
Xcel has 1.5 million electric customers and 1.4 million natural gas customers in Colorado, with a lot of overlap between the two.
Xcel offers customers energy-saving tips at xcelenergy.com/tips and information on energy efficiency programs and options at xcelenergy.com/programs_and_rebates.
Utility customers can seek help with bills from the Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, which will start taking applications for assistance Nov. 1, and Energy Outreach Colorado.
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