High Utility Bills in Colorado

Coloradans experienced a massive spike in our heating and energy bills this winter. The big driver - gas.

Pole marker with warning sign for natural gas pipeline buried underground
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Coloradans are too reliant on gas to heat our homes and power our grid.

Take Action

The price of gas is volatile. This winter, it went up by 40% compared to last year, impacting every Coloradan. The Public Utilities Commission reported that many gas utility bills from November 2022 to January 2023 more than doubled from the previous year and for a typical Xcel customer gas bills have increased by ~75% compared to the previous year.

But it’s not just the price of this fossil fuel that is leading to higher bills.

Gas is also expensive to build and maintain.

Methane is the primary component of gas. It’s dangerous to breathe and can lead to injury or death so it’s expensive to transport it to our homes and businesses and requires large investments in pipes and infrastructure. Unfortunately, that infrastructure leaks.

  • A gas pipeline incident occurs somewhere in the U.S. approximately every 40 hours. From 2010 through nearly the end of 2021, a gas leak, serious enough to report to the federal government, happened almost 2,600 times in the U.S. 328 resulted in explosions and fires killing 122 people and injuring 603.

We’re too reliant on gas.

68% of Colorado homes (or about 1.5 million) are heated by utility gas and many commercial buildings are too. In addition, 28 percent of our electricity grid is also fueled by gas.

We need to reduce our reliance on gas and the high costs that come with the volatile price spikes and expensive infrastructure.

Utilities Must Act to Reduce Our Reliance on Gas

Unfortunately, too many utilities are continuing to stick with gas. And we are forced to pay for it.

There are two primary parts of your utility bill:

  • Supply – the cost of the energy itself, in this case methane gas
  • Delivery – the cost to build and safely maintain the transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure to deliver energy or gas to your home.

When it comes to supply, most utilities pass along the energy at cost. This means they often lack incentives to reduce reliance on gas price spikes.

When it comes to delivery, utilities that make money do so on the delivery side of your bill. The more money they spend building stuff, the higher our rates to pay for that infrastructure and the greater their opportunity to profit.

Many gas investments take decades to pay off – sometimes as long as 50 years.

But our state has a goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. So ratepayers will pay for some gas investments we make right now, well past 2050 – beyond the point most of this infrastructure should not even be operating.

So gas investments now make even less sense from a cost perspective.

We need to reduce our reliance on gas.

Recommendations for Policymakers and Regulators
  • End ratepayer subsidies that support gas infrastructure whether it’s pipelines or appliances – we should not be encouraging greater dependence on fossil fuels
  • Maximize energy efficiency programs – the cheapest and cleanest kilowatt is the one we don’t use
  • New infrastructure should focus on renewables and storage – investing in gas power plants or gas pipelines deepens our dependence and increases costs. Clean energy is cost competitive and is just as reliable
  • Create incentives for utilities to reduce gas price spikes instead of just passing those spikes on to consumers
  • For investor-owned utilities, legal costs, trade association fees and lobbying expenses should not come from ratepayers
  • Ensure utilities, not ratepayers, are on the hook for gas expenses beyond 2050 – ratepayers should not support new gas investments that last beyond the date by which we need to meet our greenhouse gas emissions goals
  • Maximize the impact of federal incentives to go electric by coupling them with utility rebates and state support – it’s easier than ever for individual homeowners to go electric
  • Reduce peak demand and invest in demand response programs – spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build new power plants just to be used a few days a year to meet large “peak” demand when rates are highest is particularly costly for consumers. Reducing peak demand helps minimize the need for new generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure; can improve reliability and resilience; and can bring monetary benefits to ratepayers if compensated demand response programs are used.
    • Examples include incentives for smart appliances or programs that allow the utility to automatically cycle your non-essential appliances at times of peak demand.

To avoid the costs of gas in the future, we need to shift to a system that has lower costs for us as consumers and big benefits for us as a community.

Many Coloradans struggled to pay utility bills this winter because of large gas price spikes

Take Action

Tell the Public Utilities Commission to Protect Consumers from High Utility Bills

This winter many Coloradans’ utility bills skyrocketed — some doubled. In recent testimony, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) attributed the cost of gas as a leading factor.

As the regulator for investor-owned utilities, tell the PUC to stand up for consumers and make sure utilities are doing more to tackle waste and reduce our reliance on expensive gas to heat and power our homes.

Sign our petition here.

Tell Governor Polis to Prioritize Reducing our Reliance on Gas

At a press conference in February, Governor Polis said it best — to reduce rising utility bills we need to cut our reliance on volatile gas.

Tell him you agree. Add your name to our message here.

Share Your Story (and High Utility Bill)

Utility bills across Colorado skyrocketed this winter. State legislators, the governor and regulators are all looking into why and how to stop these spikes in the future.

What happened to your utility bill? How did it impact you?

Share your story HERE so we can ensure decision-makers follow through and identify ways to stop these utility bill hikes from happening in the future.


Danny Katz

Executive Director, CoPIRG

Danny has been the director of CoPIRG for over a decade. Danny co-authored a groundbreaking report on the state’s transit, walking and biking needs and is a co-author of the annual “State of Recycling” report. He also helped write a 2016 Denver initiative to create a public matching campaign finance program and led the early effort to eliminate predatory payday loans in Colorado. Danny serves on the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Efficiency and Accountability Committee, CDOT's Transit and Rail Advisory Committee, RTD's Reimagine Advisory Committee, the Denver Moves Everyone Think Tank, and the I-70 Collaborative Effort. Danny lobbies federal, state and local elected officials on transportation electrification, multimodal transportation, zero waste, consumer protection and public health issues. He appears frequently in local media outlets and is active in a number of coalitions. He resides in Denver with his family, where he enjoys biking and skiing, the neighborhood food scene and raising chickens.

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