Electric rate study gives local utilities something to plug | PostIndependent.com

Electric rate study gives local utilities something to plug

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

It costs less to watch TV, dry your hair and make toast in Glenwood Springs and surrounding areas than in the majority of Colorado.

According to an electric rate survey released earlier this month by the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities, or CAMU, the Glenwood Springs Electric System had the 11th-cheapest rates and Holy Cross Energy the 12th cheapest out of a total of 49 electric utilities in the state.

Glenwood Springs Electric System line superintendent John Hines and Holy Cross spokesman Bob Gardner both said the low rates stem from efficiently run systems and shrewd wholesale power purchasing.

“I like to think that we’re efficient,” Hines said of Glenwood Springs’ municipal system, which hasn’t increased its rates since 1991.

Hines also said it helps that the city doesn’t have to pay dividends to stockholders like an investor-owned company, such as Xcel Energy.

Holy Cross Energy’s prices are low for similar reasons, Gardner said.

“There’s a lot of different levels of how you control rates,” Gardner said. “Wholesale power costs make up a little more than 50 percent” of the company’s rates.

“I guess it’s just prudent management,” he added.

For 700 kilowatt hours of electricity, which is the average amount of electricity used by residence each month, the average cost in Colorado is $59.72.

By comparison, the CAMU rate survey says Glenwood Springs charges $52.81 and Holy Cross Energy charges $52.94 ” both around 12 percent lower than the state average.

Gardner said in reality, Holy Cross’ rates are even lower than the survey suggests.

“One of the interesting things about the survey is that if Holy Cross happens to serve within a town boundary, those consumers pay a franchise fee,” he said, noting that the fee is 3 percent and was included in the price survey.

So Holy Cross customers who live in unincorporated Garfield County actually would pay $51.40 for 700 kilowatts of electricity in a month, which would put the company at No. 10 on the statewide list.

Another benefit of being served by Holy Cross is that it’s a customer-owned cooperative, Gardner said, meaning that after the company’s bills are paid and infrastructure is built or repaired, the rest of the money goes back to the company’s customers in the form of checks.

“We’re going to be sending out $5 million in member equity in December,” Gardner said. “When they open it up and it’s a check, I think that’s a pleasant surprise.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511


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