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LIBRE Initiative encourages residents to speak out against energy bill increases

"This trend of increasing rates is not sustainable," said Strategic Director Angel Merlos.

COLORADO, USA — Energy bills are going up, sometimes double or triple what people were paying last year.

The LIBRE Initiative is a conservative Latino advocacy group that's encouraging the community to speak up.

LIBRE is a subgroup of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' group that is involved in a number of conservative causes.

"Like all Coloradans, I'm feeling it, my family's feeling it, friends and neighbors, just everybody across the state is feeling this," said Angel Merlos, strategic director of The LIBRE Initiative.

He said it's time to make the people's voices heard.

"This trend of increasing rates is not sustainable," said Merlos. "We can't allow this to continue happening."

Right now, one of the organization's focuses is the exploding cost of energy bills.

"We're working with a lot of families, a lot of immigrant families, a lot of first generation families," said Merlos. "They work so hard just to have to pay bills all the time."

They're bills that are becoming unbearable for families to pay, and Merlos said their concerns should be heard.

"There's only so much they can take," he said.

Merlos said he knows families whose energy bill used to be $150/month and is now more than $300/month.

"Everything adds up, the gas, the food, inflation, housing," he said.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approves or declines rate increases by companies like Xcel. The LIBRE Initiative said these unelected government officials are largely responsible for higher energy costs.

"We're just wanting to make noise so that they know that people are not seeing this," said Merlos.

The PUC recently approved an application to reduce the gas cost adjustment, which the PUC said should result in a 15% reduction on natural gas bills.
Merlos said even this is not enough.

"Electricity's up 25% and heating is up 75%. We're exepcting the A/C to be even more expensive this coming summer," he said. "So, it doesn't really do much."

He said they're working to educate people on the process of how rate increases work so that residents feel empowered to speak up.

"We hope that families engage and take action," said Merlos. 

The LIBRE Initiative is encouraging residents concerned about their energy bills to film a testimonial on their phones of how the rate increases have impacted their families. If you'd like to do that, you can send your testimonial to this email address: amerlos@belibre.org.

The PUC said it always encourages public comments and there are several ways residents can do so: 

  • Via the public participation page, as well as a significant proceedings page
  • Via the Commission’s online form
  • By email at dora_puc_website@state.co.us
  • By mail to the Commission’s offices at: Colorado Public Utilities Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 250, Denver, CO 80202
  • By phone at any time by calling (303) 869-3490 and leaving a voicemail. Verbal comments can be provided in English and Spanish.
  • Verbal comments can also be provided at public comment hearings. Public comment hearings are not scheduled for all proceedings. You can provide comments for a proceeding using all of the other methods above regardless of whether there is a public comment hearing.

9NEWS reached out to Xcel and did not hear back.


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