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Rate hike could end incentives for wind energy

The increase is necessary because the Windsource program was designed for customers who want to pay premium rates in order to promote green energy, Stutz said.

BOULDER — County officials plan to fight a proposed Xcel Energy rate increase that would raise the cost of purchasing wind-generated electricity.

Xcel’s proposed rate increase comes as the county is actually saving money by purchasing energy generated by wind, rather than more costly fossil fuels, Boulder County spokeswoman Barb Halpin said.

The proposed increase will cost Boulder County at least $100,000 a year, Halpin said, though she did not provide specific figures on current or projected energy costs for county government.

“It takes the whole incentive away from investing in alternative or renewable energy,” Halpin said Monday.

County officials will ask to participate in negotiations over the rate increase during a Colorado Public Utilities Commission meeting today in Denver, she said.

Under the current rate system, average residential Xcel customers pay about $53 each month for energy, whether they subscribe to the company’s Windsource renewable energy program or support fossil fuel-based power, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said.

Last winter, with natural gas prices spiking, fossil fuel customers paid an average of $56 each month, while wind customers enjoyed lower bills at $53 a month.

Now, Xcel officials want... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BOULDER — County officials plan to fight a proposed Xcel Energy rate increase that would raise the cost of purchasing wind-generated electricity.
 
Xcel’s proposed rate increase comes as the county is actually saving money by purchasing energy generated by wind, rather than more costly fossil fuels, Boulder County spokeswoman Barb Halpin said.
 
The proposed increase will cost Boulder County at least $100,000 a year, Halpin said, though she did not provide specific figures on current or projected energy costs for county government.
 
“It takes the whole incentive away from investing in alternative or renewable energy,” Halpin said Monday.
 
County officials will ask to participate in negotiations over the rate increase during a Colorado Public Utilities Commission meeting today in Denver, she said.
 
Under the current rate system, average residential Xcel customers pay about $53 each month for energy, whether they subscribe to the company’s Windsource renewable energy program or support fossil fuel-based power, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said.
 
Last winter, with natural gas prices spiking, fossil fuel customers paid an average of $56 each month, while wind customers enjoyed lower bills at $53 a month.
 
Now, Xcel officials want to raise the average customer’s monthly bill to about $63 a month, and the average Windsource customer’s bill to $66.
 
The increase is necessary because the Windsource program was designed for customers who want to pay premium rates in order to promote green energy, Stutz said.
 
The fee schedule for Xcel’s Windsource program has not kept up with the cost of developing new wind farms around the state, he said. The price of steel for producing turbines has jumped since Windsource launched in 1998, and developing wind farms usually involves costly negotiations and land purchases, he said.
 
“You never join Windsource to get a break on your electric bill,” Stutz said.
 
But Boulder County, which uses wind energy to power half of its government facilities, did enjoy savings over the winter amid soaring natural gas prices. The county expected to save $25,000 this year by buying wind energy instead of natural gas, Commissioner Will Toor said in April.
 
Xcel’s proposed increases would also help pay for $24 million in initial financing for a $1.35 billion coal-powered generator under construction in Pueblo, Stutz said.
 
The company is also expanding its wind-energy portfolio after voters passed Amendment 37 last year. The measure requires the state’s large utility companies to produce 10 percent of their energy from wind sources.
 
The utilities commission will likely decide whether to allow the new rates in September, Stutz said. If approved, they would take effect in January.
 
Brad Turner can be reached at 720-494-5420, or by e-mail at bturner@times-call.com.
 
Meeting is today
 
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. today to set a schedule for reviewing Xcel Energy’s proposed rate changes. The meeting will be held at 1580 Logan St., Denver.


Source: http://www.longmontfyi.com/...

MAY 24 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2756-rate-hike-could-end-incentives-for-wind-energy
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