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Aug 1, 2014 8:44 PM by Andy Koen

State consumer advocate says Pueblo utility bills should drop

DENVER - A state appointed consumer advocate says high electricity rates in Pueblo should be dropping, not increasing.  Cindy Schonhaut, the Director of the Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel told the Public Utility Commission that Black Hills Energy rates are too high.

Her analysts reviewed the rates and recommended a $0.45 cent monthly decrease.

Black Hills requested a 3.7 percent rate increase from the commission to recover the $50 million they spent in 2012 to build a 29 Megawatt wind farm in Huerfano County.

The increase would push up the average residential bill from $94.36 to $99.06. The company says state and federal clean energy laws require them to spend money on new infrastructure, and they feel the rates reflect those costs.

Schonhaut believes the improvement costs should be shared by the company and it's ratepayers.

"It's a question of how much are these costs, are the prudent, are they reasonable and how much of them the consumer should have to pick up versus the share holders of the company."

A public hearing about the proposed rate is scheduled for Thursday September 4, at 4:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Chambers of the Pueblo County Courthouse, 215 W. 10th Street.

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