DENVER — Two days in a row of 100-degree heat in Denver.
Remember one month ago when it was overcast and rainy?
Remember four months ago when it was below zero and energy companies in Colorado had to scramble to buy natural gas at sky-high prices? By the way, state regulators in Colorado still have not finished hearings on whether or not the energy companies, like Xcel and Black Hills, will get approval to pass those costs on to customers, but it appears increasingly likely that they will be able to pass those costs along.
Is there something similar that customers can expect now with a string of 90 and 100 degree days?
"I don't anticipate it ever being exactly the way that we had an instance in February, but there are times where we do sometimes compensate and purchase energy on the market in the summer," said Hollie Velasquez Horvath, Senior Director for State Affairs at Xcel Energy.
In February, energy companies, like Xcel and Black Hills, needed to buy natural gas in the moment at really high prices because many companies needed natural gas in the moment.
Needing to buy electricity in the moment does not appear to be a concern right now.
"We could actually reach all the way to California sometimes, and possibly purchase energy from some of the energy that they're generating as well, and vice versa," said Velasquez Horvath.
How does that work?
"Texas' grid is not connected, really, to the rest of the U.S. Our grid is connected also to the Western Interconnect, in Colorado, so we could pull power," said Ian Lange, Director of Mineral and Energy Economics at Colorado School of Mines. "Washington can send power a little bit east and Idaho can send a little bit east, so eventually it would get to us. Obviously, you wouldn't send power directly, say from Seattle to Colorado, but everybody would push a little east and it would get some here, if need be, where Texas sits on a different interconnect. It couldn't ask for Oklahoma or Arkansas to help out."
That is where Texas residents are more at risk of price fluctuation in the moment. Colorado can get help from multiple states that may not have such a spike in natural gas or electricity price.
And in the summer, there are more options. If Xcel needed energy immediately, it could buy natural gas to run its plants that generate electricity or it could purchase electricity directly from the other states, depending on which is more cost-efficient.
"In the wintertime, when people are freezing, you can't say, oh, give me some more electricity if fewer people have electric heat," said Lange.
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