Rural Colorado is footing the bill for February’s deep freeze — even if rural Colorado never got very cold |

Rural Colorado is footing the bill for February’s deep freeze — even if rural Colorado never got very cold

Angry utility customers in places like Grand Valley and Grand Mesa pen poison letters: “It’s a monopoly! Reduce obscene CEO pay!”

Michael Booth
Colorado Sun
A high-tension power line in Mesa County traverses Grand Valley Power's co-op territory near Grand Junction, Colorado. (Christmas Wharton, Grand Valley Power)

When Grand Valley Power CEO Tom Walch gets worked up explaining what he sees as the avarice and ignorance of Xcel Energy and worries he is not conveying his rage, he pulls out a letter from an angry co-op customer and starts reading.

“They shouldn’t unload this blunder on customers who happen to be on their electrical grid,” Walch recites.

“This is going to hurt a lot of businesses here and elsewhere that are already hurting due to the Covid pandemic. It could put them out of business.”

“We really don’t have a choice! It is a monopoly!”

“Xcel is a huge corporation! Reduce obscene CEO and executive pay!”

Surcharges from the February freeze week have already hit 18,000 co-op customers in the rural Grand Valley near Grand Junction, even as direct customers of Xcel on the Front Range are shielded by the delays and protections of a Public Utilities Commission storm investigation and intervention by consumer advocates. Because Grand Valley and other co-ops like it buy their electricity in bulk from Xcel and are regulated by federal authorities, they must charge their customers extra for the February storm right now.

The indignities don’t stop there.

Xcel is passing on runaway costs of February electricity generation to places that weren’t cold and didn’t need extra energy. On Feb. 14, the heart of the storm that froze Texas and surrounding states, the low in Denver was minus 11 degrees. The low in Grand Junction? A balmy 18 degrees. T-shirt skiing.

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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