Coloradans concerned about high utility bills demand answers from state regulators
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission held a public meeting earlier this week to hear people’s concerns about high utility bills. This comes after record profits for Xcel Energy, the state’s largest energy provider.
As the cost of natural gas increases, so are energy bills. Many people who attended the public meeting said they can’t keep up with the utilities cost hikes, which in some cases have as much as tripled.
Over 40 community members came forward at the public meeting to voice their concerns. Many said heat should not be a luxury, but that’s what it feels like when they receive unaffordable energy bills. They have to decide whether to feed their families or pay for lighting and gas.
One attendee who spoke during the meeting, Gary Martinez of Denver, said he’s never received a bill so high.
“My bill would be around $200—the most in the winter. Now it's gone ridiculous,” he said. “So we need some help here, guys.”
State regulators say energy bills are 75% higher than last year. Chairman Eric Blank did not answer questions during the meeting but did say they will use the information gathered during the meeting to find a solution.
Many customers, like Denver resident Mary Cohen, said Xcel is increasing bills for no good reason.
“They're not struggling. They're making record profits," Cohen said. "There are people in my neighborhood who are saying they can't even stay in their houses now with $200 and $300 bills.“
Xcel Energy reported record profits last week. The company also announced a plan to lower gas bills by 15% over the next two months through a new cost adjustment plan.
The Public Utilities Commission encourages Coloradans to keep sharing their comments and concerns. The commission also provides financial assistance for those having trouble paying a utility bill.