Colorado Springs Utilities updates rates, offers assistance

By Colorado Springs UtilitiesJanuary 26, 2024

Colorado Springs Utility updates rates, offers assistance
Colorado Springs Utilities offers a variety of programs to assist its customers in paying utility bills. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities) VIEW ORIGINAL

(Editor’s note: The following article and courtesy photo were provided by Colorado Springs Utilities, Fort Carson’s utility provider.)

Each year, Colorado Springs Utilities (Springs Utilities) sets rates to provide safe, reliable service and keep prices competitive. Springs Utilities is community owned and does not make a profit on its rates.

Revenue is invested back into the system to maintain and update aging pipes and wires, prepare for future demand and meet regulatory requirements.

This winter, Springs Utilities has important changes to rates that benefit customers living off post while ensuring safety and reliability. The rates fall into two primary categories: fuel rates and base rates.

Fuel rates

These are also called cost adjustments and are based on the changes in fuel costs to provide natural gas and electric service. In January, the city council approved a decrease to the natural gas cost adjustment in response to lower-than-expected costs. Those savings were effective Jan. 15. The average monthly savings on a typical winter bill for customers living off post is about $15.

Springs Utilities passes changes in fuel costs — up or down — directly on to customers, typically four times a year. The next scheduled adjustment is in April.

Base rates

Base rates are updated annually. This revenue is invested back into the system to maintain water mains, power plants, the natural gas system and other upgrades and projects.

In November 2023, Colorado Springs City Council approved an electric and natural gas base rate increase. A Colorado Clean Heat Plan charge will recover expenses related to meeting state law requirements. These changes equal about an $8 increase on a typical monthly bill, which became effective Jan. 1, 2024. Fortunately, lower natural gas rates that were just approved will help offset this.

Every customer’s bill is different, depending on household use. Springs Utilities’ bill calculator can help provide a more personalized bill estimate.

Competitive prices

To protect customers from price increases, Springs Utilities buys natural gas at lower rates when demand isn’t as high. They also use other long-range tools to lock in a portion of supply at lower prices. All these measures have helped keep bills competitive. A typical four-service bill is 11 percent lower than neighboring utilities across the Front Range.

Customer assistance

In winter, it’s common for people to experience higher bills because of increased use of furnaces to stay warm when the temperatures drop.

A variety of programs are available to Springs Utilities’ customers living off post who may have difficulty paying utilities bills. They are:

  • The federally-funded Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program designed to help eligible low-income households with winter home heating costs. LEAP is available from November to April for customers who meet income guidelines.
  • Colorado Springs Utilities and the Energy Resource Center have partnered to provide energy- and water-efficiency improvements for qualifying residential customers living off-post through the federally funded Home Efficiency Assistance Program. HEAP participants receive in-home energy and water audits. Those results are used to recommend various improvements that could include weather stripping and additional insulation to attics, sidewalls and crawlspaces. Only qualifying customers are eligible to participate in HEAP.
  • The City of Colorado Springs offers financial assistance to eligible low-income households for some home repairs. Eligible services include sewer and water line repairs, lead repairs and efficiency upgrades.
  • Budget Billing is a free program that makes it easier for Springs Utilities’ customers to budget their expenses because payments are spread evenly throughout the year. Budget Billing lessens the impact on customers’ budgets during the winter and summer months when utility use is high. Despite unpredictable swings in the weather and usage, customers utilizing Budget Billing will have utility bills that are predictable. Also, the Pick My Payment Date program offers a convenient solution allowing customers the flexibility to choose a due date that works best for them.