Electricity joins natural gas in rate spike
SUMMIT COUNTY – When it rains, it pours.Xcel Energy Company has released higher electricity rates on top of natural gas rates already hitting record highs. Many landlords are feeling the pinch, and say they’ll have to raise rents to meet the increased costs.
Turk Montepare, the owner of the Groll apartment building and the Sterling building in Breckenridge, covers utility costs at Sterling and pays natural gas costs for Groll tenants.”I had to raise my rents in my apartment building for the first time in probably five years because I was just getting hammered,” he said. “I was very reluctant to do that because my building is all locals and long-time tenants, but I got to a point where I just didn’t have any choice.”The source of the latest round of rising rates comes from the fact that Xcel uses natural gas to generate 48 percent of its electricity in Colorado; coal generates 45 percent.Extensive damage to production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and weather damage to Wyoming railroads that limited Xcel’s incoming September coal shipments have combined to keep the natural gas prices inflated. Montepare said his December 2005 bill, he said, will be twice that of his December 2002 one. Electric rates will likely rise again in January, but Xcel spokeswoman Margarita Alarcon said many factors can change between now and the new year.Frisco residential and commercial landlord Chris Eby knows that all too well. A self-described “small player” in the local rental market, he doesn’t have a clause in his leases allowing him to adjust rents with rising utilities. “I can go to my tenants and say, ‘Poor me, gosh guys, I really had to reach into my pocket this winter to keep you folks warm and comfortable, would you mind anteing up a little bit?’ And they may say, ‘Well I think I’ll just find another place.’ The reality is that a lot of (landlords) are going to have to react down the road to the events that are going on in these energy markets today.”Vail, Colorado