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Fed up Xcel Energy customers demand answers from state regulators

Customers joined this online meeting with the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday to vent about their energy bills.

DENVER — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a public hearing about high energy costs on Tuesday.

It ended up being a listening session, leaving customers complaints unanswered.

“How many times has PUC turned down these rate increase requests? I’ve been here -- I’m a native. I have never heard of them turning down a rate increase,” said one Xcel Energy customer in the meeting.

“I’m sorry, I’m not able to answer questions, but all I can tell you is I can assure you we’re listening and trying to do what we can,” PUC Commissioner Eric Blank said.

Blank was leading the meeting, going from one public comment to the next, but his answers were blank by design.

“Mr. Blank, how can we get answers to our questions? Right now, you are very polite and you are pacifying everybody. How can we get answers to our questions? What forum do we have to go through? This is obviously not working,” said one customer.

“I don’t know what to tell you. We have pending cases in front of us and we function as judges in those cases and we are not capable of answering questions in forums like this without prejudicing our ability to our decide those future cases,” Blank said.

Customers complained about high energy bills, and recent rate increases approved by the PUC. Natural gas rate increases include reimbursing Xcel dollar-for-dollar for the price of natural gas.

“My bill two months ago was $131, my bill a month ago went up to $331. I just got my bill, it’s $481,” said customer Jeanette Neubauer.

"Not only don't I want you to grant them a new rate increase, I don't even know if this is possible, I'd like you to rescind their natural gas rate increase from two months ago,” said customer Maury Cohen.

“They need to invest their profits in infrastructure. That’s what companies do is they invest their own money in infrastructure,” said customer Jill Egburtson.

“We need some help here, we really need some help,” said customer Gary Martinez.

The recommendation to customers is to reach out to the Utility Consumer Advocate, the group that represents the public in hearings in front of the PUC.

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