snow photo

Winter gas rates are not not expected to be as high as previously thought.

After recently raising gas and electric rates in response to forecasts that natural gas prices could go through the roof this winter, City Council is expected to approve a proposal from Colorado Springs Utilities to lower them.

In a news release, Utilities said the lower rates would be effective Dec. 1 if Council approves them, as planned, at its Nov. 22 meeting.

"Individual bill impacts vary depending on weather, household use and efficiency factors," the release said. "For winter months when natural gas use is higher (December-February), the estimated impact is a decrease of $29.71 per month on the average residential bill. When taking into account all rate changes in 2022, the average residential winter bill will be about $35 lower than last year."

Utilities passes fuel costs directly on to customers.

When the previous rate hikes were imposed, the city-owned utility based its forecast on the expectation that natural gas prices would soar.

"Approaching winter, temperatures have been milder than expected across the United States," the release said. "This has resulted in more gas in storage and the additional supply has helped bring down the price. The full recovery of cost associated with the 2021 Winter Storm Uri also enables Springs Utilities to pass through lower market costs while other utilities are increasing rates."  

But Utilities officials warn that the gas market remains volatile. That means if prices change, rates could also be changed.

The next scheduled cost adjustment would be effective April 1, but the change expected to be approved on Nov. 22 is an "out of cycle" change — Utilities revisits fuel costs quarterly — so nothing would prevent the city from changing gas and electric cost adjustment rates prior to April 1. 

Meantime, Utilities offers these steps to help manage heating costs:

  • Weather strip doors and windows to reduce air loss from your home. (We'll add here that customers should be prepared to pay handsomely for this. Some outfits who specialize in this service charge $400 for an audit alone, not including any upgrades. Lower income folks can access free services like these through certain government-subsidized programs.)
  • Change your furnace filter every 30 days and schedule a qualified contractor to perform an annual check-up. 
  • During winter, set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when home and 60 degrees when away or sleeping. A $50 rebate is offered for installing ENERGY STAR smart thermostats.

Utilities Board was expected to take up the proposed rate decrease at today's meeting.

Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.