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Chaffee County isn’t the only Colorado county addressing high energy bills this winter and asking questions about rate increases. As it turns out state legislators down at the Colorado Capitol are asking questions for us, pointing out that it is their role to advocate for Colorado families.

At its second meeting on Tuesday, the Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates sought some answers, hearing testimony and pressing Colorado utilities on how their decisions, investments, and business practices impact Coloradans’ energy bills.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the U.S. specializes in the research and development of renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy systems integration, and sustainable transportation. NREL is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Department of Energy and operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy

“Coloradans have been feeling the pain on their energy bills, and today we took another step towards not only understanding why, but to identifying what we can do about it,” said Joint Select Committee (JSC) Chair Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder.

“It’s clear that the interests of utilities and the interests of the public could be better aligned,” he added. “We’re going to keep pressing for answers and searching for solutions that will address the glaring disconnect between record high energy bills and record profits for utility companies while ensuring energy remains affordable and reliable for Colorado families.”

“Coloradans are paying record energy bills and they’re counting on us to address skyrocketing prices,” said Joint Select Committee Vice Chair Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “Today’s hearing confirmed what we’ve been hearing for months. Hardworking families are trying their best to make ends meet as utility companies steadily report record-breaking profits, raising serious questions about our current system. This hearing was an important step to help us understand the root causes of high energy costs and prioritize everyday Coloradans.”

Transmission towers are silhouetted against the setting sun. Photo by Allen Best.

“As a joint select committee, we’ve been diving deeper into what’s causing rising energy costs that hurt hardworking families who are just trying to get by,” said Joint Select Committee member Rep. Matthew Martinez, D-Monte Vista. “It is clear that we need a better understanding of the costs, profits, and investments of public utility companies to be able to get to the bottom of what is causing Coloradans’ high energy bills.”

“Nobody should be forced to choose between paying their energy bill and putting food on the table – but too many of our neighbors are finding themselves in that position, which is why we’re working to protect them,” said JSC member Sen. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County.

“These are important conversations that are helping us get our heads around the problem and pointing the way to answers. I am excited to continue this important work, and look forward to finding solutions that will stabilize energy prices for hardworking Colorado families,” added Cutter.

Technicians were working Wednesday, Feb. 10, to restore natural gas service to 200 customers in Buena Vista.

The Committee heard testimony from the following Colorado utilities:

  • Xcel Energy | Robert Kenney, President, Public Services Company & Hollie Velasquez Horvath, RVP, State Affairs and Community Relations
  • Black Hills Energy | Nick Wagner, Vice President of Colorado Regulatory Affairs and Policy & Kellie Ashcraft, Vice President of Colorado Operations
  • Colorado Rural Electric Association | Kent Singer, Executive Director
  • Holy Cross Energy | Bryan Hannegan, President and CEO
  • CORE Electric Cooperative | Jeff Baudier, CEO
  • Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities | Daniel Hodges, Government Affairs Liaison
  • Atmos Energy | Kenny Malter, Director, Gas Supply and Services & Joe Christian, Director, Rates and Regulatory Affairs

The session was convened by Senate President Fenberg and House Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon (who is our Representative for Chaffee County) in response to recent spikes in energy prices. The Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates is charged with working to better understand issues such as the impact of volatility in natural gas markets, the frequency and justification for rate increases sought by utilities, and other relevant factors.

The Committee’s next meeting will take place on Monday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. Learn more about the Committee’s work at this link.

The Joint Select Committee on Rising Utility Rates is inviting public comment on how rising rates have impacted you and your family. Send comments to Your submissions will be made available to committee members to review.