The Cost to Cool Off This Summer Could Be Going Up - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/26/06

The Cost to Cool Off This Summer Could Be Going Up

One day after we told you that both Xcel and Lubbock Power and Light plan to drop their discounts for prompt payment, we've learned that Xcel may raise its rates as well.

This Wednesday, the electric company plans to ask the Public Utility Commission of Texas to approve a base rate increase.

If approved, it would be the first base rate increase in 20 years.

"One good thing with the electric bill for the summer, they are going to be about 17.5 percent lower than what they were over the winter," said Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves.

While you may see a decrease in your electric bill, there's a good chance you'll see a rate increase on your bill as well. 

"If approved we could have the new rates in by the end of September," Reeves said.

There are two ways that energy companies charge customers: the fuel cost and the base rate.

"The fuel costs change from time to time. They are the prices we pay for natural gas and coal. And those prices are passed directly onto the consumer; we don't profit anything form the fuel cost. We charge only what we have to pay to bring fuel into our power plant," said Reeves.

The base rate hasn't risen since 1986. 

"This rate reflects the investments we make into our system to not only to take care of our day-to-day needs providing electricity, but also to invest in our system," Reeves said.

The demand for Xcel has grown about 50 percent in the last 20 years, creating a need for updates, repairs and expansions.

"We're just not bringing in enough money on the base rate to cover today's needs plus tomorrow's needs, and that's what we're looking at as a long-term forecast," Reeves said.

If passed, Lubbock won't be the only city to see the changes, about 80 other west Texas cities will feel the increase as well. 

"In our part of the state we have lived with low rates for quite awhile. We don't really realize what other Texans are paying for power," said Reeves.

Xcel Energy claims to be the second lowest priced utility company in the state.

Right now in Lubbock you're paying around .07 cents to .08 cents per kilowatt hour. It's about .15 cents in Dallas and Houston, .16 cents in Corpus Christi and in Abilene it's more than double Lubbock's rate at .19 cents per kWh.

"We're getting a great deal in Amarillo and Lubbock and West Texas, and we don't expect that to change. With even a small increase we see ourselves as still being a very low cost producers and distributor of power," Reeves said. 

Official numbers won't be out until next Wednesday. So, we don't know how big a rate hike we could be looking at.

Remember, this is not a done deal. State regulators have the final say.

Cool Ways To Save in the Summer Heat
As temperatures climb in summer so can your electricity consumption and your electricity bills! Using energy wisely doesn't mean you can't stay cool or that you have to go without the essentials but it will save you money and also help save the environment. These tips outline various ways which will help you reduce your energy consumption.

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