Colorado General Assembly Ponders Measure Mandating More Transparency on Utility Bills

In the Colorado General Assembly, a measure (SB17-105) that would require investor-owned electric utilities – such as Xcel Energy, serving the Denver area; and Black Hills Energy, serving Pueblo – to provide their customers with a comprehensive breakdown of costs on their monthly bills passed the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee with bipartisan support on February 16. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration, according to a February 17 report by The [Pueblo] Gazette.

The legislation, Consumer Right to Know Electric Utility Charges, was introduced by State Senator Leroy Garcia (D-03) in January. Specifically, it requires an investor-owned electric utility to file with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for a review of the comprehensive billing format that the utility has developed for its monthly billing of customers at the same time at which it files a rate schedule with the commission.

The comprehensive billing format must include:

  • A line-item representation of all monthly charges and credits applied to the customer;
  • For months in which tiered rates are applied, a breakdown of the tiered rates and the amount of usage to which each rate was applied for the month;
  • The rate and usage for the current month and each of the previous 12 months, as shown in a bar graph or other visual format; and
  • For customers to which demand rates apply, a listing of the demand charge, aggregated data about the range and average of kilowatts used during the various demand periods of the billing period, and, if the customer is a residential customer, a calculation of the amount that the customer would have been billed had standard residential rates applied.

The bill provides that, once a comprehensive billing format has been approved by the commission, the investor-owned utility need not refile it unless changes have been made to it.

Hard-working Coloradans should know exactly what they’re paying for when they receive their electric bill every month,” said Garcia in a statement released by the Senate Democratic press office. “In Pueblo especially, where we have some of the highest energy rates in the state, it’s not right that a utility company can just sneak hidden or mysterious ‘fees’ that ultimately jack up people’s electric bill. I’m pleased this consumer-protection bill passed, and look forward to continuing the conversation.”

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