This is personal. I have a big family that includes me, my husband, my three kids, two dogs, a cat and during the last two summers — two additional house guests. In 2009, we hosted two college-aged baseball players for the summer. We had seven people living in a 5000 square foot house. According to our Xcel Energy bill, our seven-member family used 2368 kilowatt hours of electricity in July 2009, and we paid $231.36.
Fast forward to July 2010, we had two additional house guests again. Our seven-member family used 2607 kilowatt hours, a ten percent increase over July 2009. And we paid dearly for it. Our bill was $371.96, a 61 percent increase in cost from the previous year.
My energy colleague William Yeatman and I have discussed the problems with Xcel’s seasonal tiered rate structure including its ridiculously low 500 kilowatt threshold. Had all seven of us had our own, individual residential meter we could have used our full 500 kilowatt hours (for 3500 kil0watt hours total) and paid less than what my family paid for 2607 kilowatt hours.
Let me demonstrate:
- Xcel’s “Residential General Summer Tier 1” Charge 500kWh x 0.046040 = $23.02. Multiply this by seven (number of family members) and the total of our individual rates would have been $161.14, and we would have/could have used 893 additional kilowatt hours.
- Because of the seasonal tiered rate structure, we were charged 0.046040 for the first 500 kilowatt hours ($23.02) and .090000 for the additional 2107 kilowatt hours ($189.63) for a total of $212.65. That’s $51.51 more with 893 less kilowatt hours just because we live together as a family.
In an attempt to force ratepayers into using less energy regardless of circumstance, the Public Utilities Commission and Xcel penalize us for having a large family that shares living space. That’s why we will be watching on Wednesday, March 9, when the House Transportation Committee hears HB 1271, which eliminates the tiered rate structure but must also be revenue neutral for Xcel. No need to worry about the investor-owned utility. Thanks to former Governor Bill Ritter and the PUC, Xcel has done very well in Colorado.