Your home heating bill might be a little lower than last year, at least through December

Xcel Energy customers could pay just a tiny bit less to heat their homes between now and the end of the year.
2 min. read

Xcel Energy customers could pay just a tiny bit less to heat their homes between now and the end of the year, under a quarterly gas cost adjustment filed Thursday.

The weather will make a much bigger difference in home heating costs than the 1 percent rate change suggested by Xcel -- if it's colder than last year, we'll pay more than last year -- but gas prices aren't going up, as some analysts had predicted, at least not yet.

Xcel files both electric commodity adjustments (ECAs) and gas cost adjustments (GCAs) every quarter based on changing prices in the wholesale market for natural gas and coal. Increases or decreases in Xcel's cost to produce electricity and provide gas to homes gets passed on to consumers.

The adjustments filed Thursday ask for a 3 percent increase in electricity rates and a 1 percent decrease in gas rates. If the adjustments are approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, they would go into effect Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

A number of analysts have predicted a spike in natural gas prices, with some forecasts saying they'll be as much as 75 percent higher than last winter, as the Denver Post reported last week. That, in turn, would lead to homeowners paying more to keep warm.

Xcel Energy's economist didn't predict the same kind of increase and that forecast is reflected in Xcel's filing. Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said the company can't speak to how other analysts make their predictions, but the company has been using the same methodology for a long time.

"Xcel Energy looks at the NYMEX market prices for natural gas approximately one week prior to its filings," he said in an email. "Our estimates are based on a methodology that we have used for many years and which are consistent with commission rules; if approved, they show that prices and ultimately customer bills for our Colorado service territory would be relatively flat on a year-to-year comparison."

Under the adjustments, a residential customer who used 632 kilowatts of electricity would pay $77.45 starting in October, an increase of $2.39 from current rates. Gas bills are compared with the same three-month period from last year to account for seasonal differences. A residential customer who used 91.2 therms would pay $57.54, 77 cents less than the same period in 2015.

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