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Elected officials call press conference over electric rate increase

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 11, 2024

PUEBLO, Colo. — Pueblo Mayor Heather Graham will join County Commissioners Epie Griego, Daneya Esgar, and Zach Swearingen at a news conference Thursday morning at the Pueblo County Courthouse to discuss a proposed rate increase by Black Hills Energy.

The electric utility provider is asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to approve a $36,000,000 base rate adjustment. The company estimates residential electric bills will increase by an average of $20 each month.

Small businesses would see their electric bills increase by an estimated $25 per month, and large commercial and industrial customers by $251 to $275 per month.

This is the company's first rate increase request in 8 years. Black Hills Energy says the increase is necessary given higher operating and maintenance costs.

Joseph Pereira, Deputy Director of the Colorado Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate (UCA), met with members of the Pueblo Energy Advisory Commission last week. The UCA intervenes on behalf of customers in rate adjustment cases before Public Utility Commission.

Ken Danti, Chair of the Pueblo Energy Advisory Commission, shared a slide during the meeting comparing electric rates from various publicly-owned, investor-owned, electric co-ops around the state. Black Hills Energy's rates were the highest.

"I'm here speaking as a Pueblo citizen and as a Black Hills customer, and my statement is this: the Black Hills rate increase is an assault on their electric customers," Danti told News 5.

"They did this in the past and they're doing it again. It's the exact same playbook. So, we really need to fight this rate increase. It's unjust."

Danti attributed his data to the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities residential survey.

In a news release announcing the rate increase, Black Hills Energy Vice President of Colorado Utilities Campbell Hawkins said the company is very mindful of cost impacts to customers, "which is why we have avoided seeking a rate increase for eight years."

“We know that higher costs for everything – from groceries to gasoline to monthly energy bills – are a topic of conversation in the communities we serve. We recognize the impact that bill increases have on our customers and we’re here to help.”

Black Hills Energy customers can receive free energy efficiency kids with materials like weatherstripping for doors, LED light bulbs, faucet aerators, and shower heads. The company also offers free virtual energy assessments where a trained expert can review a home's energy use and recommend ways to save.

Click here to visit the Black Hills Energy payment assistance page.

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