Pipeline siphons natural gas savings
Post Independent Staff
Natural gas bills for residential customers of Xcel Energy in Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute will increase on average $9.82 per month through September, said Xcel spokesman Steve Roalstad.
After September, “they might be even higher,” Roalstad continued.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission allowed Xcel’s new rates to go into effect March 21, said PUC spokesman Terry Bote.
Bote said the increase reflects higher prices Xcel is paying for natural gas, and the company is passing on those costs “dollar for dollar” to consumers.
“The cost adjustment will not result in any additional profit for Xcel Energy,” Roalstad said. “We earn our money from our pipelines and infrastructure, not the commodity of gas.”
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Roalstad said Colorado consumers paid less for natural gas than those in other parts of the country in the past. That’s because the Rocky Mountain region produced more natural gas than could be transported to other states. Higher prices are coming in part because a new pipeline from Wyoming to the West Coast will transport the equivalent of Xcel’s daily winter output to California.
“The marketplace is shifting as Colorado gas is shipped to the West Coast,” Roalstad said.
Other contributing factors in the price increase were cold weather in the Northeast, and lower gas storage nationwide.
Roalstad it’s “likely” a pipeline from Wyoming to Chicago will be constructed in a few years, siphoning even more of the Rocky Mountain region’s natural gas.
Xcel’s gas increase will be reflected on bills from April through September. Roalstad his company might have to ask for another increase in the fall.
“We held off on this increase until the spring, and are trying to get people prepared for the next energy season,” Roalstad said.
The average monthly natural gas bill for residential users in the 2001-2002 winter heating season was $44.16, Roalstad said.
In recent weeks, prices paid for Rocky Mountain natural gas at the wholesale level reached $5 to $7 per dekatherm.
A dekatherm is 100 therms. Xcel uses therm as a measuring unit of gas consumption. A typical house uses an average of 30 therms per month.
This compares with prices of $12 to $33 per dekatherm in the Northeast, $9 to $18 per dekatherm in the Chicago and Midwest markets, $10 to $24 per dekatherm in Texas and Louisiana, and $8 to $12 per dekatherm in California.
Xcel Energy serves 70 percent of Colorado, from Grand Junction to Denver and Sterling. Locally, it provides natural gas and electric service to parts of Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute, and electricity to parts of Carbondale.
Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534
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