DENVER — Xcel Energy will soon start charging higher electricity rates during peak hours, and that is causing a lot of confusion and anxiety among customers like Tamara Casillas.
“I’m a grandmother and I’m on a pension,” Casillas said.
She points out that families are paying more for everything right now, from groceries to gas.
“With inflation and everything that’s going on in the world, things are going to go up a little, and it’s getting harder and rougher for everybody,” she said.
So, Xcel’s announcement that it will be raising rates is yet another blow to her budget.
Customers will pay nearly three times more during peak hours versus off-peak hours. Peak hours are defined as 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, just as families are getting home from school and work.
“That’s when we’re home watching TV,” Casillas said. “The kids are on laptops or computers doing their homework. A lot of energy is used at that time - cooking, dishwashers, stoves.”
“It’s going to cost me three times as much to cook a pizza at 5:30 p.m. as it does at 7:01,” said a Centennial father of two.
“I’ve sent them two messages saying, ‘If I opt out of this – what’s the flat rate?’” said the Centennial man. “I haven’t been able to get an answer. That’s why I contacted you guys.”
We contacted Xcel on his behalf and yours and got a response. If you opt out of the time-of-use rates, you pay $0.12 cents per kilowatt hour in the winter and $0.14 cents in the summer.
If you opt in, you pay $0.10 cents per kilowatt hour during off-peak hours in the summer and $0.28 cents during peak hours in the summer. In the winter, you pay $0.10 cents per kilowatt hour during off-peak hours, and if you opt-in, you pay $0.17 cents during peak hours.
“I didn’t even see the option to opt out in their literature they mailed,” said the Centennial man. “You get told what’s going to happen and when you have questions – you get no response from them.”
Casillas also wonders how this will impact Xcel’s budget billing.
“Last year – budget billing was $70 dollars a month,” Casillas said of Xcel’s budget program. “This year – it’s already $90/month.”
She, too, questions the transparency of this new pricing structure.
“To be sneaky is just not fair to us,” Casillas said.
Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here.