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An 89.5 percent increase since 2004

Ho hum, Xcel Energy wants another $142 million rate increase, and it wants to recover another $16.5 million for its Boulder smart grid project. And in other news, dog bites man. If the Public Utilities Commission denied the rate increases, that would be a news story.

This is all part of Colorado’s New Energy Economy. Rates continue to go up, but isn’t that a reasonable price to pay to feel good about our windmills and solar panels? Or is it?

When we write about the consequences of the policies that make up Colorado’s New Energy Economy, we discuss them on a macro level. Policies such as renewable energy mandates, fuel switching, carbon taxes, tiered rates, and  the state implementation plan will cost Xcel Energy ratepayers more than $1 billion in the years to come. Reports claim that average increases have been roughly 20 percent over the last few years and another 20 percent is predicted for future years.

But what do these policies mean specifically to Colorado’s working families? Let’s take mine for instance…

Pre-New Energy Economy:

To bring the cost of Colorado’s energy policy to the kitchen table, I went digging through my old files and found a pre-New Energy Economy electric bill. A 5,000 square foot home provided enough room for my family of five and a home office. I could work from home and take care of kids. With all the activity, my November 2004 Xcel Energy bill shows that we used 2,848 kilowatt hours for a total cost of $217.59, or 7.6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Post-New Energy Economy:

In July 2011, living in a different 5,000 square foot home but still with five people and a home office, we used 2,701 kilowatt hours of electricity at a total cost of $389.15, or 14.4 cents per kilowatt hour. That is an 89.5 percent increase in just seven years thanks, in part, to New Energy Economy policies such as renewable energy mandates, carbon taxes, fuel switching, and tiered rates (especially tiered rates).

Had electric rates simply kept up with the rate of inflation, my $217.59 bill in 2004 would have cost $260.59 in 2011, a mere 19.8 percent increase.

While it’s easy to get angry at Xcel Energy for profiteering off ratepayers through its state-sanctioned monopoly, but that’s like getting mad at a rattle snake for doing what comes naturally — biting you. The people to blame are elected officials and Public Utilities Commissioners who are supposed to be watch dogs for ratepayers but instead indulge special interests and their own green agenda regardless of cost to ratepayers.