GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – Colleen Rouse, along with many other Grand Valley Power (GVP) customers, received higher than normal bills for February. Rouse, and wholesale customer GVP, ask questions about decisions made by Xcel Energy.
Grand Valley Power CEO Tom Walch said the company had to pass on the higher cost of electricity in February to its customers. Walch explained that GVP, as a cooperative that operates on low margins, had little margin to absorb the higher bill it was receiving from Xcel Energy, GVP’s supplier. Walch also said GVP was caught off guard by Xcel over February’s higher costs. “We have not received any notification about this from Xcel. They incurred these charges in mid-February. The first time I heard anything, that someone had anything in their head, one of the wholesale customers, the customers of the co-ops, heard about it, it was the very last February working day.
Walch said GVP took out a loan from Xcel to pay the higher bill and that customers have the option to pay their February extra charges over the next year. Colleen Rouse will pay an additional $ 31 per month for the next twelve months, for a total of approximately $ 375.
Rouse shared her point: “I really don’t think it’s fair to the customers, or just to the small energy companies, who have to give it back to us as customers.”
GVP Communications Director Christmas Wharton described the actions GVP has taken in response to the situation. According to Wharton, “We are also crazy. We didn’t expect this fuel cost adjustment to impact our members and it does. So we have a lot of questions for Xcel Energy, really. And that is why we are calling on them regarding this wholesale electricity bill that we have received. “
Xcel Energy sent a statement which said in part that “While we follow natural gas price hedging policies to reduce the impact of price spikes, we are not immune to extraordinary cost spikes, such as those in February, and we have taken steps to mitigate the high costs, including using stored gas, switching fuel sources where possible, and discontinuing service to customers who participate in these programs. “
Regarding the payment from GVP to Xcel to cover the February costs, Xcel’s statement said, “Since the cold of February, we have worked closely with Grand Valley Power to provide flexibility by extending the time frame during which the company could pay February’s fuel costs whenever possible to provide immediate relief. Grand Valley Power declined this offer.
Xcel Energy also explained that the company’s priority during the extreme winter conditions was to ensure that all customers have access to electricity, and that Xcel “does not make any profit from the natural gas we supply to customers.” .
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