Utility company heads on Tuesday faced questions from Colorado lawmakers on the causes behind recent energy bill spikes.
Energy company leaders, including those from Xcel Energy, appeared before the The Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates, a newly formed committee made up of four Democrats and two Republicans to investigate customer complaints of higher utility bills.
For months, energy customers have been sharing stories with Denver7 about sharp increases in their monthly utility bills. Some customers, including Kim Lysobey have seen their bill nearly double over just a few months.
Leaders from energy companies, including Black Hills Energy, Colorado Rural Electric Association and Core Electric Cooperative presented testimony and explained to the committee what’s behind the current pricing trends.
Company leaders faced tough questions regarding accountability to their customers and record profits.
Xcel Energy said the majority of its profits are going to infrastructure investments in Colorado, not company investments.
In regards to high energy bills, the energy companies said customers can set up payment plans to make bill paying easier.
The conversation started to get heated when Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Weld County, brought up concerns about the direction of the meeting, saying she thought the purpose was to strategize new ways to help consumers.
The committee also heard from regulators and consumer advocates over the course of its work.
The committee said it hopes to better understand how the Public Utility Commission sets prices and works to keep rates low and will determine if any regulatory changes are needed.
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Just this weekend, Denver7 reported on Xcel Energy executives taking home millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses while customers see increases in their bills, according to data from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Xcel and other energy companies in Colorado are overseen by the state’s PUC which approves rate hikes. As natural gas prices have hit record highs, Xcel maintained it has not made additional profit off the increased commodity cost of natural gas.
The Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates will meet again on Monday, March 20.
State leaders are seeking the public’s input on how utility price increases have made an impact. Anyone can email their comments and story to the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.