Impacts of Winter Storm Uri
The State of Colorado along with many other states in the central United States experienced extremely cold weather in February 2021. Natural gas providers responded to this extreme cold weather event by raising prices across the country due to increased and unplanned for demand. The extraordinarily high market costs caused Colorado utilities to incur much higher expenses to continue providing consumers with electricity and natural gas services.
In response to this cold weather event, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) opened a proceeding to review costs incurred during the event (21M-0130EG). Additionally, the PUC is considering proposed cost recovery requests by individual utilities on a case-by-case basis, known as Proceedings.
What is a Proceeding?
Proceedings are quasi-judicial cases that include various consumer advocacy groups, energy and environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, PUC staff, the general public, and representatives from utilities providers. During a proceeding, the PUC decision makers will hear testimony and review evidence, which ultimately results in a final decision being made by the Commissioners who are appointed by the Governor. In the case of Winter Storm Uri, six proceedings have been opened to review costs incurred during the winter event and decide on how those costs should be recovered.
The six proceedings associated with Winter Storm Uri have been referred to Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) for hearing and determining how each company will be allowed to recover costs and what costs will be allowed to be recovered. Included in each description of the proceedings below are links to background information and written testimony from each company, which can be found through the PUC’s E-Filing system. Additionally, all the hearings are open to the public and will be broadcast through the PUC’s website. The public is encouraged to participate in each proceeding by visiting this webpage and providing written comments or by participating in the assigned public comment hearings scheduled for each proceeding. Visit the PUC homepage to view upcoming public comment hearings on each proceeding.
21A-0186G – Atmos
Atmos Energy Corporation’s proposes multiple approaches for cost recovery efforts among their three rate divisions within Colorado. In the proposal, the Southwest rate division would see an increase of $1,082,270 carried across a 12-month period, increasing monthly bills by an estimated $5.95. The Southeast rate divisions would see an increase of $3,120,070 carried across a 36-month period, increasing monthly bills by an estimated $3.73. The North rate divisions would see a total of $19,347,269 carried across a 36-month period, increasing monthly bills by an estimated $3.68.
Information on this proceeding can be found here, and an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for November 8-10, 2021.
21A-0188G – Colorado Natural Gas
Colorado Natural Gas’ proposal requests approval to spread costs incurred during the February event across a 5-year period with varying estimated increases to monthly residential bills. Proposed cost recovery efforts would increase bills in Cripple Creek by an estimated $2.47, Baily and South Park by an estimated $4.14, Pueblo West and Colorado by an estimated $3.93, and Eastern Colorado by an estimated $8.99.
Information on this proceeding can be found here, and an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for November 18-19, 2021.
21A-0192EG - Public Service Company of Colorado (Electric and Gas)
Public Service Company of Colorado requests recovery of $263 million for its Electric Department, either for a period of 24 months, which would mean an average residential bill increase of $2.86 per month or 60 months, which would mean an increase of $1.24 per month for an average residential bill. For its Gas Department, Public Service requests recovery of $287 million, either for 24 months or 60 months. If recovery is for 24 months, the average residential bill for that period would increase by $6.20, if it is for 60 months, the average residential bill increase per month would be $1.88.
Information on this proceeding can be found here, and an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for November 1-3, 2021.
21A-0196G - Black Hills Gas
Black Hills Gas proposes to recover $72.7 million proportionally across its rate areas. Black Hills Gas requests a three-year recovery period for its Central and North/Southwest rate areas and a one-year recovery period for its Western Slope rate areas. The average monthly residential bill increase during this time would be $8.05 per month in Central Rate Area 2, $11.73 per month in Central Rate Area 3, $15.48 per month in North/Southwest Rate Area 1, and $10.62 per month in North/Southwest Rate Area 2. For the Western Slope Rate Area, the average residential bill would increase by $12.46 per month.
Information on this proceeding can be found here, and an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for December 1-3, 2021.
21A-0197E - Black Hills Electric
Black Hills Electric is seeking recovery of $23.1 million over two years for its entire service territory. This would mean an increase in average residential bills of $3.83 per month for 24 months.
Information can be found here and an evidentiary hearing in this proceeding is scheduled for November 29 – 30, 2021.
21A-0203ST - Public Service Steam
For its Steam customers, Public Service Company requests recovery of $3.7 million over 24 months, which would mean a monthly increase of $447.51 for these customers.
Information can be found here and an evidentiary and an evidentiary hearing in this proceeding is scheduled for November 16, 2021.