Will Xcel Energy’s plan for natural gas leave Colorado customers on the hook? State regulators decide.

Regulators are considering Xcel Energy’s proposed natural gas price hike of $188.6 million. Critics say it will be too heavy a burden on taxpayers. In this file photo from 2010, workers are installing a section of gas pipeline in Burgdorf.

Craig F. Walker Archive/Denver Post

As state regulators review Xcel Energy-Colorado’s request for $188.6 million natural gas rate hikeAdvocates warn that the utility’s new investments in gas facilities will force customers to pay big bills for energy they won’t need.

Natural gas will be the new coal, say critics. They say the shift to renewables and running buildings with all electricity means expanding pipelines and natural gas plants will force Xcel customers to pay for facilities they won’t need. in a few years.

This scenario is already playing out with coal. Xcel plans to close its coal-fired power plants ahead of schedule and will seek to recover its costs for the facilities from ratepayers.

“We have a billion dollars worth of coal plants that are stuck and now Xcel is trying to do the same on their gas system,” said Leslie Glustrom, a Boulder resident with the nonprofit Clean Energy Action. , at a recent Colorado Public Utilities Commission hearing.

Coal-fired power plants are considered ‘stranded assets’ because they will be shut down sooner than expected when they were designed, financed and built. In common practice for regulated utilities, Xcel seeks permission to operate ratepayers to help cover its costs for these assets.

Read the full story at DenverPost.com.

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