Energy Blend: Despite local increase, Colorado offers second-lowest energy rates in country | CraigDailyPress.com

Energy Blend: Despite local increase, Colorado offers second-lowest energy rates in country

Yampa Valley Electric Association customers are paying more after summer rate hikes.

Moffat County Resident Linda Pinnt noticed an increase in her electric bill in August. She said her bill increased by $50 between July and August, even though she thought she had used about the same amount of electricity, and suspected the installation of a new meter might have contributed to the increase.

Pinnt is one of many Northwest Colorado residents who are paying more to keep the lights on following rate increases by Yampa Valley Electric Association.

YVEA — a not-for-profit electric cooperative serving more than 26,000 homes and businesses in Northwest Colorado and Carbon County, Wyoming — is owned by its customers, and rates are set by a board of directors elected by those customers. The recent rate increase was based on a study done in 2016 that determined, “rates must be adjusted to cover the rising cost of expenses and distribute the costs to our members on a more equitable basis.”

YVEA purchases power from the Western Area Power Administration — a federal agency that primarily markets and transmits power generated from 56 hydroelectric plants and  the Navajo Generating Station coal-fired plant near Page, Arizona — and Xcel Energy, which in May announced, “one of the most aggressive carbon-reduction goals in the industry by cutting carbon emissions 35 percent.” And by 2030, Xcel plans to cut emissions back to 2005 levels, exceeding the goals of the Paris Climate accords.

But the change might not be as bad as it seems.

Despite the rate increases, when WalletHub — a website that offers free credit scores, full credit reports, and “the brain of an artificially intelligent financial advisor” — compared the total monthly energy bills in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Colorado came out as the second lowest, with an average monthly energy bill of $252. Wyoming residents, who face an average monthly energy bill of $372, ranked as having the highest costs in the nation.

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In contrast, Atmos Energy customers should have noticed a decrease in natural gas prices when the Public Utilities Commission approved a request for a rate decrease in June.

“The commission and Atmos Energy have acted quickly to pass on the savings from the Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” according to the notice.

Natural gas is a commodity traded on international markets. Atmos Energy rates are determined by the Gas Cost Adjustment, a figure calculated annually and based on the forecasted gas commodity cost, forecasted upstream service cost, and gas price management costs incurred by the company. Rate adjustments must also be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Comparatively lower rates may not comfort those trying to make ends meet.

“I hate to see what winter is going to be like,” Pinnt said.

Both Atmos Energy and YVEA offer qualified customers budget billing, a payment method that averages the bill through the course of the year to keep monthly payments more consistent. Both companies also offer tips for improving efficiency and helping keep costs low.

To learn more visit atmosenergy.com, and click on “Ways to Save,” or visit yvea.com/content/yampa-valley-electric-association click “Energy Efficiency.”

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

By the numbers

A recent WalletHub study compared electricity, natural gas, motor fuel, and home heating oil. Here’s how Colorado stacked up in each energy type:

• Price of electricity ranked better than 26 other states in the nation.

• Electricity consumption per consumer was ranked 38th in the nation.

• The price of natural gas in Colorado was ranked 49th; only the District of Columbia had lower natural gas prices.

• Colorado had cheaper motor fuel than 23 other states.

• Motor-fuel consumption per drivers consumed less motor-fuel than 39 other states.

For the full report visit wallethub.com/edu/energy-costs-by-state/4833.