Aug 30, 2011 12:32 AM by John Romero

Pueblo energy customers could see rate hike

A proposed rate hike by Black Hills Energy in Pueblo has many asking questions. On Tuesday a hearing will be held with local residents to get their thoughts on the proposed hike of nearly 19% a month. "What it amounts to for our average customer which consumes about 600 kilowatt hours a month, is an increase of 63 cents a day." explains Christopher Burke with Black Hills Energy. That comes out to about $19 more a month.

Pueblo City Councilman Steve Nawrocki tells us independent consultants have told council different. "Actually the way it's being interpreted to us as council members is 19% is the increase in total revenue." he says, "But in order to get that 19% increase in total revenue, the rate increases would be more in the neighborhood of 22% and up."

Black Hills says they don't want to ask for the hike, but it's necessary to help fund a near $500,000,000 project designed to make them more energy efficient and independent. "The rate request is designed specifically to cover the cost of the facilities that are being constructed, associated with the new Pueblo Airport Generating Station." explains Burke.

Still Nawrocki, who also works with the Pueblo Senior Resource Development Agency, says the rate hike could simply be too much for many in the community. "That will have a tremendous negative impact on a lot of our constituents." he says, "Especially the working poor and the people on fixed incomes."

Burke says there are relief programs for those that qualify. "There are numerous arrangements that can be made. The key thing is that we have to know about your situation and we're more than willing to work with you." he says.

A public hearing on the issue will be held in Pueblo Tuesday August 30th with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in the Pueblo County Conference Room at 1001 N. Santa Fe Ave.



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