COLORADO SPRINGS – It’ll cost a little bit more to heat our home next month. Colorado Springs City Council approved a quarterly cost adjustment last week for both gas and electric rates due to the fluctuating price of natural gas.
“When the price natural gas goes up, which it does every winter, then prices tend to go up,” explained City Councilman Andres Pico.
On average, bills will increase by $2.90 per month. While the fuel costs are higher than what we paid during the summer, Colorado Springs Utilities Chief Planning and Finance Officer Tamela Monroe explained that bills overall will cost about the same as last winter.
“If you compare this heating season to last year, the electric rate is slightly higher and the gas rate is actually 2.1 percent lower,” she said.
In fact, Pico said the rates are actually lower than when he first joined City Council in 2013.
But it doesn’t mean that everyone can afford their bills. Deana Hunt from the Pikes Peak United Way said that despite the strong economy, the number of people calling 211 for assistance with their bills has gone up this year.
“When we continue to see rent rates increasing as well as utility rates increasing, often at the same time, families do tend to struggle a little bit more,” she explained.
The 211 call takers connect families with assistance programs like the federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and Colorado Springs Utilities’ Project Cope to help pay utility bills.
Monroe said Colorado Springs Utilities is requesting another rate increase in early 2019 in water and sewer service charges. It’s expected to add an average of $4.60 to monthly bills to pay for new infrastructure.
“What this is is really just infrastructure,” Monroe said. “Pipes, pumps, valves, that kind of replacement and treatment centers.”
Crews are currently making upgrades to the Phillip Tollefson water treatment plant which first opened in 1942. It was expanded in the 1960’s and again in the 1980’s.
Applications for LEAP assistance will be accepted beginning on November 1. Customers in need of financial assistance are encouraged to call 211 or send a text message to 898211 to begin the application process.