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February 08, 2023 01:08 PM UTC

Hickenlooper Joins Call for Investigation Over Rising Utility Rates

  • 9 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols
Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver)

As Colorado Public Radio reported last week, Xcel Energy says it has a “plan” to reduce utility costs now that enough consumers have complained about rising rates. That “plan” is essentially just to pass along savings from lower natural gas prices, which is something that you would hope a utility provider would be doing anyway.

Xcel and other utility companies have caused enough pain across the country that Democratic Senators — including Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) — are demanding more accountability for utilities charging astronomical rates to consumers. According to a press release from Hickenlooper’s office:

This week, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Sheldon Whitehouse, Chris Van Hollen, and Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan requesting the agency investigate the investor-owned utility industry’s abusive practices that drive up costs, hurt consumers, and damage the public trust.

In the letter, the Senators highlight how the changing energy landscape can threaten existing electricity industry profit models, and implore the FTC to look into potentially harmful and deceptive actions taken by utility companies that prioritize profit. [Pols emphasis]

“Some utilities have responded by engaging in questionable practices to subvert these trends in the interest of protecting their profits over the pockets of their customers, harming poor communities and communities of color in particular,” wrote the Senators. “We believe these disturbing anti-competitive and anti-democratic incidents merit an FTC investigation.”

The Senators’ letter supports a May 2022 petition submitted by more than 230 organizations and advocates, including Environment Colorado, Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center, the Center for Asian Studies (CASE) at the University of Colorado, and Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper.

Click here to read the full letter from the Senators. Colorado has two investor-owned utilities that would be affected by an FTC investigation: Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy.

Comments

9 thoughts on “Hickenlooper Joins Call for Investigation Over Rising Utility Rates

  1. Good on Hick and the rest of those signatories. Thanks to Xcel and its obedient lap dogs on the Colorado PUC, our electricity/gas bill has more than doubled starting last summer. We can’t drag the price gougers from their homes kicking and screaming, then slowly beat them to death in the street, but decisive legal action to stop this painfully obvious gouging would provide some welcome relief.

  2. The only realistic way to temper gas bills is for Xcel to hedge. And, hedging is not free.

    Our gas bill went up 43% y-o-y on a per therm basis. I do not consider that astronomical.

    Thank your lucky stars that you do not live in the UK.

    1. The only realistic way to temper gas bills is for Xcel to hedge.

      lol

      Ipse dixit, and predictably incorrect.

      Our gas bill went up 43% y-o-y on a per therm basis. I do not consider that astronomical.

      That's some garden variety wingnut sociopathy right there: "Doesn't affect me much; therefore, no big deal."

  3. Despite all the crying about increasing Xcel bills, customers of Black Hills Energy in south central Colorado still pay a whole lot more for their electricity than do Xcel customers. But I'm glad Xcel is getting a bunch of attention because the larger problem is finally getting the attention of the PUC, some legislators, the Governor, and U.S. Senators among others. The basic problem is the regulated monopoly, investor-owned utility model. It sucks billions of dollars in profits out of Colorado and expects customers, taxpayers, and charities to backfill those lost dollars so that low-income folks can keep the lights on. The answer is NOT more assistance programs – we need a new model for utilities in Colorado – something to replace the two monopolies getting rich because the entire system of laws favors them and guarantees a healthy rate of return at the same time thousands cannot afford to keep the lights on or heat their homes. Heat and lights should not be viewed as luxuries only for the well-off.

    1. I believe Xcel made something like 500 million in profit in Colorado alone last year. With the sweetheart near monopoly deal they have, and the assurance that the CO PUC will just rubber stamp any rate increase requests, there is probably no incentive for them to make an effort to get the best deals they can on natural gas prices. Why would they even care in a system that benefits them only? Just pass whatever the cost is onto the customer and reap massive profits.

      We have had solar panels installed at our home about 5 years ago, but with the paltry amount Xcel buys back kwh from us, and the much higher amount they sell those same kwh to us, it really is a wash as we are paying $ 158 a month for the system we bought. Any savings we could reap is pretty much wiped out by their shitbaggery.

      Who is watching out for Coloradans? It’s not the PUC for sure. It’s insane.

      It’s almost like it’s a rigged system for Xcel! Oh wait…

      1. We had the rare opportunity in 2004 to bring the rural renewable energy resources to our urban loads through the support of the passage of Amendment 37.  If our rural leadership would have set their hate for liberals aside and joined them in the legislature to build the blueprint for our rural electrics to own and operate the multi-billion wind and solar farms we could have taken on Xcel – and won.
         

        Instead they launched the War on Rural Colorado, went to their bunkers and convinced rural Colorado they could  live and thrive in some kind of ignorant, independent utopia.  I have no illusions that we have yet learned anything from this exercise. It didn’t have to be this way. 

        1. Michael Bowman – I was out in Eastern Colorado/West Kansas two weeks ago pheasant hunting and haven't been there in a while. I noticed all of the massive Heidi signs are still up on 287 through Hugo, Kit Carson, etc. and Kobach signs to be seen at a few places in West Kansas. The saddest thing were the tattered, barely recognizable Trump flags in Cheyenne Wells. What a fitting symbol for his current state.

          The groupthink mindset out there is still just astonishing, and the reason for why a lot of things, like the "war on rural Colorado" and " we don't need any of that renewable energy" ideas gain traction. I don't mean to criticize, but they just don't want to think independently, or debate anything on its own merits. Demonization of the other and us vs. them is the answer to everything.

          I love it out there because it's so damn peaceful. Hate to see the ostritch mentality remains strong though…

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