DENVER — After Xcel Energy recorded profits this year and Coloradans saw sky-high bills, scrutiny of utility companies led to the signing of a new law meant to protect customer interests, and their wallets.
A utilities bill signed into law on Thursday limits costs utilities like Xcel can pass on to their customers. It's the end result of a Joint Select Committee established to investigate high utility rates and legislative solutions, headed by Democratic state Senator Steven Fenberg.
This means you won't be charged for things like legal fees for Xcel's legal battles and certain advertising expenses anymore. Xcel won't be able to pass along costs for lobbying or political donations, either.
"This bill is about short-term savings, it's about long-term savings. It's also about making sure that we effectively make this transition in a way that doesn't leave ratepayers on the hook for investments that will be in the ground sometimes for decades, if not longer," Fenberg said at the bill signing.
The law will also have the state's Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which regulates companies like Xcel, set a limit on the cost of gas that can be passed to customers.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) said they left that up to the PUC because they're able to respond to changes more quickly than having lawmakers review costs annually.
"It's a hard thing to do in statute because it's dynamic and potentially changing over time, so I think this is a directive to PUC. I'm sure the legislature as well as me will be watching what PUC does with it to make sure it fulfills the intent of the law," Polis said.
The rulemaking process will take some time, so customers won't see their utility bills change immediately.
Xcel opposed the legislation when it was introduced, saying it will hurt investor relationships and cause the company to raise rates.
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