Natural gas prices soaring this winter
Kinder Morgan, which supplies gas to much of western Eagle County – including Edwards and Eagle – has filed its annual gas cost adjustment with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
An average Kinder Morgan customer paid $117 to heat a home last January. That same customer can expect to pay $144 this January, an increase of about 23 percent, according to Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Natalie Shelbourn.
Xcel Energy supplies natural gas to 70 percent of Colorado, including Vail, Avon, much of eastern Eagle County as well as Silt, Rifle, Parachute, Battlement Mesa and Grand Junction.
For Xcel Energy customers, the average January bill will increase to $143 from $84 last January, an increase of 70 percent, according to Xcel spokesman Steve Roalstad.
Shelbourn said the gas price increases are a “pass-through” cost to Kinder Morgan’s customers. State law prohibits energy companies from increasing their profits by raising prices.
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As for Xcel, its increases have come in two phases since March. Roalstad said this year’s increases were necessary to make up for selling below-cost gas to customers last winter.
Xcel drew howls of protest a couple years ago with a stiff price increase with winter setting in. Some of that price increase was rolled back, and Xcel had to eat some of the losses last winter.
“We kept a lid on our prices last winter, even though our costs were increasing,” Roalstad said.
After the winter heating season passed, Xcel increased its prices.
Xcel announced its latest price increase in September. Kinder Morgan seized upon the public relations opportunity to proclaim that while it would also have to increase prices, it would be nothing like Xcel’s. A month later, Kinder Morgan’s price increase matches Xcel’s almost dollar for dollar. The percentage of Kinder Morgan’s increase was lower, but Kinder Morgan’s prices were higher in the first place.
Natural gas prices won’t go down in the foreseeable future. Roalstad said that while production in the Rocky Mountain region remains relatively steady, the price changes stem partially from nationwide distribution. A large pipeline is carrying natural gas to the Midwest and others are planned to reach the West Coast.
Xcel Energy’s help line is 1-800-895-4999. The company’s interactive Web site is http://www.xcelenergy.com, where customers can get immediate help on ways to improve their homes’ efficiency.
Vail Daily reporter Randy Wyrick contributed to this report.