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City seeks to elevate voices of already energy burdened community members with opposition
This week, the city announced its opposition to a settlement agreement Xcel Energy reached with other parties in their electric rate case. In November 2022, Xcel Energy submitted an application to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) proposing to increase total revenues collected from customers by $262.3 million. If approved, this would have resulted in an 8.2% bill increase for residential customers, a 7.77% increase for small commercial customers and a 5% to 7% increase for large commercial and industrial customers.
Though the application included items the city strongly supports, such as investment in wildfire mitigation, it also proposed a 10% increase in equity return for shareholders and rate increases that would further burden residents and businesses already struggling with rising utility costs.
While the parties made progress in scaling back Xcel’s request to raise rates to a potential range of 1.7% to 4.4%, the city decided to oppose the settlement agreement, continue to challenge the proposed rate increases, and request the PUC consider whether the proposed equity return is necessary or appropriate. The City of Boulder is represented by staff from the City Attorney’s Office and the Climate Initiatives Department.
This decision was influenced by extensive concerns shared by Boulder community members in written public comment to the Public Utilities Commission, along with feedback gathered through community engagement. Many Boulder community members are struggling with the impacts of utility costs. The city believes it’s important for the PUC to take Boulder’s concerns into account as they consider whether to accept the settlement.
“We appreciate the parties to this case, including the Commission staff and Office of Utility Consumer Advocates for their hard work to reach this settlement. However, we must end the practice of rate increases that don’t fully consider the impact to community members, particularly those who have a high energy burden,” said City of Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett. “We also need to make sure that if customers are asked to pay more, those investments prioritize safety, reliability and a clean energy future.”
“Energy affordability is at the heart of the city’s position in this case,” said Jonathan Koehn, director of climate initiatives for the city. “This case has seen a record number of letters from people struggling with rising energy costs – many from Boulder community members. City staff take representing our community very seriously. As such, we couldn’t join a settlement that will still raise costs, especially considering the drivers of the increase in this case.”
The city filed both answer testimony and cross answer testimony in this proceeding. Hearings on this issue are currently set to begin July 10. The PUC will decide whether to accept, modify or reject the settlement after the hearing concludes. They also have time to further review evidence that was presented. More information and opportunities to submit public comment are available on their website. City of Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett’s letter to the Commission is also available on the city’s website.