NewsContact Denver7


Xcel customers blast utility in PUC affordability hearing

Poster image - 2023-01-31T181433.585.jpg
Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-01 12:19:48-05

DENVER — Xcel customers who have seen their bills double or even triple are speaking out in a Public Utilities Commission public comment hearing on affordability Tuesday.

Denver7 has been covering the dramatic increase in utility bills, with gas bills going up 80% this winter season compared to last year's.

"I'm very concerned about families and people and children being able to stay warm in this record-breaking cold weather," said Flor Alvidrez, a Denver Resident, who spoke at Tuesday's hearing.

Consumer advocates said record numbers of people are reaching out to the PUC, and it's not about complaining — it's about reaching critical mass.

"There's a critical mass of consumers who are concerned about this," said Cindy Schonhaut, the director of the Colorado Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate. "It has to do with stories like Denver7 is doing, and social media and other more widespread ways of getting information out."

It's one thing to see charts showing gas prices increasing, and it's another thing entirely to hear from someone choosing between paying his gas bill and feeding his family.

Gary Martinez choked up when describing his attempts to get assistance paying his bill.

"I tried applying for LEAP, and I was on the phone for 30 minutes. They said they could call me back and they never did. I'm still waiting for a call," said Martinez.

Others complained in the hearing about a long backlog for Xcel's solar hookups.

Xcel customers blast utility in PUC affordability hearing

Details like that, show what is supposed to be helping people save may not be working.

"There's a lot of little pieces of this policy, like our low-income assistance programs, are they working? Do customers know how to access them?" said Erin O'Neill, the PUC's chief economist, explaining why public hearings are important in understanding what people are dealing with.

Again and again, consumers pointed out that Xcel is a monopoly, making record profits and requesting more rate hikes in 2023. They asked the PUC not to allow it.

"My bill went from $150 to a shocking $365 in one month," said Dawn Fetzko. "I'm a small business owner and my profits have to go back into my business, I don't get to ask everyone for more money."

RELATED: Xcel Energy customers could soon see this monthly reduction on their bill

If you were not able to attend the meetings, there are many ways to make your voice heard.

  • Via the Commission’s online form []  
  • By email at  
  • By mail to the Commission’s offices at Colorado Public Utilities Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 250, Denver, CO 80202  
  • By phone at any time by calling (303) 869-3490 and leaving a voicemail. Verbal comments can be provided in English and Spanish.  
  • Verbal comments can also be provided at public comment hearings. Public comment hearings are not scheduled for all proceedings. You can provide comments for a proceeding using all of the other methods above regardless of whether there is a public comment hearing.

The Commission can accept written or verbal comments in any language. Comments will be translated and included in the appropriate proceedings. To make a request for an interpreter at a public comment hearing, or to ask for a document to be translated, please use the Language Access Form [].

If you would like to share public comments in American Sign Language by video, please contact Holly Bise (

Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.