Xcel Power helps fuel business group pushing false claims in Colorado

Xcel Power is supporting a brand new fuel business effort in Colorado that has revealed false claims concerning the prices of electrification. The brand new fuel business group launched the identical week that Xcel Power started looking for approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Fee to extend its fuel charges. If authorised, the fuel charge enhance would additional elevate the already elevated value prospects are paying for fuel this winter. The speed enhance would additionally come on high of the surcharges prospects stand to pay over the following two years to cowl the prices of the terribly excessive fuel costs that Xcel Power and different utilities bought throughout February Storm Uri one yr in the past.

The brand new fuel business group calls itself “Coloradans for Power Entry” and launched final week with an internet site and op-ed within the Colorado Solar. The web site lists the brand new group’s members together with Xcel Power and Black Hills Power, investor-owned utilities that promote electrical energy and fuel in Colorado, together with Atmos Power and Summit Utilities, which promote fuel in Colorado and different states. Different members embrace unions, the Colorado Farm Bureau, and the American Public Gasoline Affiliation, the commerce affiliation for publicly-owned fuel utilities.

Xcel Power is concerned with the fuel business group regardless of additionally being a member of the Colorado Helpful Electrification League, together with the Colorado Power Workplace, cities of Denver and Boulder, and environmental teams. When requested for remark, Xcel Power wouldn’t present a proof to EPI for its involvement with each the fuel business and electrification efforts in Colorado.

Gasoline business group web site consists of false claims about heating prices

The “Coloradans for Power Entry” web site features a false declare that warmth pumps value extra to function than fuel furnaces; in actuality, increased fuel costs imply that houses utilizing environment friendly warmth pumps are prone to be cheaper to maintain heat this winter than houses that depend on fuel furnaces. 

The fuel business group’s web site claims:

“The U.S. authorities’s Power Data Administration forecasts that houses heated with pure fuel will spend $746 this winter in comparison with houses heated with an electrical warmth pump will spend $1,268.”

However the declare that warmth pumps are dearer to function than fuel furnaces just isn’t supported by the info within the cited supply, which gives estimates of the electrical energy and fuel payments for purchasers with fuel heating and electrical heating usually, not the prices of heating with warmth pumps that are considerably extra environment friendly than different forms of electrical heating.

The supply for the fuel business group’s declare is the Power Data Administration’s Winter Fuels Outlook, which states:

“We count on households that use pure fuel as their main area heating gasoline will spend $746 this winter, 30% greater than they spent final winter. This enhance in pure fuel expenditures comes from each increased anticipated costs and better anticipated consumption.”

The Power Data Administration goes on so as to add:

“We forecast that U.S. households that warmth primarily with electrical energy will spend a mean of $1,268 this winter on their electrical energy payments, which is 6% greater than final winter. This enhance is a results of our forecast of 1% extra electrical energy consumption and 5% increased residential electrical energy costs.”

A spokesperson for the EIA confirmed in an e-mail to EPI that its Winter Fuels Outlook value estimate is for the common value of the whole electrical energy invoice this winter for households that use electrical heating of all sorts, not households that use warmth pumps. Most households that depend on electrical heating within the U.S. nonetheless use much less environment friendly electrical resistance heaters equivalent to baseboard heaters, which have remained a standard characteristic in households in some areas of the nation for many years. Electrification advocates promote warmth pumps as a result of they’re extra environment friendly and assist to maintain heating prices low. Latest expertise advances imply that warmth pumps now work effectively in areas with chilly climates.

The fuel business group’s declare can be false as a result of it doesn’t replicate the truth that fuel prospects additionally pay further electrical energy prices that aren’t accounted for within the EIA determine. As a substitute, the business group compares the EIA determine for the common prices of a whole electrical energy invoice for all makes use of of electrical energy – not simply heating. The EIA Winter Fuels Outlook states this explicitly: “We forecast whole winter expenditures for all makes use of for every main heating gasoline, not simply the portion attributable to heating. For instance, the expenditures included for households that warmth primarily with electrical energy on this report would additionally embrace electrical energy used for home equipment and lighting.” A spokesperson for the EIA additionally confirmed this to EPI.

The Colorado Solar issued a correction to take away the same false declare within the op-ed by the fuel business group.

A latest evaluation from RMI discovered “that this winter, power expenditures in houses with high-efficiency, cold-climate electrical warmth pumps are prone to be decrease than in houses with fuel furnaces.” That evaluation seemed particularly at winter heating prices in Denver, together with 4 different cities.

Xcel Power fuel prospects face a number of invoice will increase

The RMI evaluation additionally highlighted how fuel costs are rather more risky than electrical energy costs. Gasoline costs have been notably risky during the last yr, and can enhance Colorado fuel prospects’ payments in a number of methods.

First, fuel utilities go on the prices of bought fuel on to prospects, and fuel costs have risen this yr globally and in Colorado. Elevated fuel exports imply that fuel costs within the U.S. are more and more tied to world markets the place fuel is dearer. The Colorado Solar reported in November that Coloradans will see “double-digit hikes of their fuel utility payments” this winter:

Rising fuel prices will push the common Xcel client’s value up greater than 14% within the final three months of this yr, whereas fuel payments in some areas served by Black Hills Power will go up 50%. Atmos Power and Colorado Pure Gasoline have additionally filed fuel value will increase starting from 11% to 24% for the common residential client in peak winter months. 

These increased fuel costs are already exhibiting up on Xcel Power fuel prospects’ payments this winter. “Colorado’s Xcel prospects may see their month-to-month pure fuel payments rise by $27 over final winter’s prices, even when they use the identical quantity of power,” Westword reported in December.

Xcel Power spent greater than $1 billion on fuel in 2021, up 57% from the $689 million it spent in 2020, in response to its newest submitting with the Securities and Trade Fee. The identical submitting exhibits that Xcel Power generated extra revenue from its operations in Colorado than any of the opposite states through which it operates.

On high of these increased fuel costs which might be mechanically handed by means of to prospects, Xcel Power can be looking for approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Fee to extend its fuel charges 13% over the following three years. This new request comes lower than a yr after Xcel Power’s earlier fuel charge enhance that took impact lower than a yr in the past in April 2021.

The Workplace of Utility Shopper Advocate, which represents the general public curiosity in proceedings earlier than the Colorado Public Utility Fee, filed a protest objecting to Xcel Power’s proposed fuel charge enhance. If authorised by the Fee, Xcel Power’s proposal would quantity to a rise of $8.13/month for a mean residential fuel buyer, starting in November 2022.

Lastly, fuel utilities in Colorado are additionally looking for approval from the Public Utilities Fee to cost prospects for the extraordinarily costly fuel they bought throughout Winter Storm Uri, which froze energy vegetation and fuel operations in Texas a yr in the past and led to fuel worth spikes throughout the nation, together with Colorado. Xcel Power is looking for to cost fuel prospects ​​$287 million for the extraordinarily costly fuel the utility bought throughout these few days, which may imply a month-to-month surcharge of $6.20 for the common fuel buyer for the following two years in response to the Colorado Public Utilities Fee. Black Hills Power, Atmos Power, and Colorado Pure Gasoline are additionally looking for so as to add surcharges to their fuel prospects’ month-to-month payments for the following two years to pay for the thousands and thousands of {dollars} they spent on fuel through the February 2021 storm and fuel worth spike.

Gas business web site options picture of fuel range with out correct air flow

The “Coloradans for Power Entry” web site additionally encompasses a inventory picture of a lady and baby cooking with a fuel range in a kitchen with no vary hood for air flow, which will increase the dangers of harmful air air pollution inside houses.

Screenshot of “Coloradans for Power Entry” web site

Cooking with fuel stoves creates air pollution inside houses equivalent to nitrogen dioxide and methane. One evaluation discovered that “kids residing in a house with fuel cooking have a 42% elevated threat of getting present bronchial asthma, a 24% elevated threat of lifetime bronchial asthma and an general 32% elevated threat of getting present and lifelong bronchial asthma.”

Cooking with a fuel range in a kitchen with no vary hood for correct air flow can enhance the dangers of inside air air pollution. A brand new examine from scientists at Stanford College decided that fuel stoves emit methane air pollution even when they’re off, and likewise “​​discovered that households who don’t use their vary hoods or who’ve poor air flow can surpass the one-hour outside customary inside a couple of minutes of range utilization, notably in additional cramped kitchens, that are extra frequent in poorer communities.”

The U.S. Shopper Product Security Fee advises shoppers to “Set up and use exhaust followers over fuel cooking stoves and ranges,” as does the American Public Gasoline Affiliation.

Xcel Power additionally helps the American Gasoline Affiliation

“Coloradans for Power Entry” just isn’t the one fuel business group that Xcel Power helps. The utility can be a member of the American Gasoline Affiliation, which has led a marketing campaign in opposition to electrification efforts in a number of states.

NPR caught the CEO of the American Gasoline Affiliation offering deceptive statements concerning the commerce affiliation’s involvement with fuel business campaigns in a number of states:

Whereas the AGA says it “will completely oppose any effort to ban pure fuel,” President and CEO Karen Harbert says her group maintains an arm’s size relationship with efforts to go preemption legal guidelines. “We aren’t coordinating these efforts and we aren’t state lobbyists,” she tells NPR. “We focus our actions, actually, on the federal stage.”

That distinction is necessary as a result of a lot of the AGA’s finances comes from ratepayers by means of its member utilities. Which means you, as a ratepayer, may very well be funding this work, even for those who don’t agree with it.

However public paperwork reviewed by NPR and recordings of AGA executives reveal that the group is actively concerned in passing state-level payments, together with utilities and native fuel commerce teams, that block essential native motion to chop heat-trapping emissions.

A kind of paperwork advises AGA member firms like Xcel Power to “Construct a neighborhood and/or state client coalition to function the spokesperson for the pure fuel business”

Equally named teams that echo fuel utility speaking factors have additionally appeared in different states. For instance, Southern California Gasoline Firm, a Sempra subsidiary and AGA member, funded a company referred to as Californians for Balanced Power Options (C4BES) to advertise the continued funding and use of the fuel system to native communities and governments. Paperwork detailed how SoCalGas focused “key Latino leaders” to assist C4BES and push the thought of “renewable” fuel as a substitute for electrification. Northwest fuel utilities additionally launched a entrance group referred to as Partnership for Power Progress, which has raised over $2.8 million {dollars} for TV and social media promoting to battle electrification coverage in Oregon and Washington.

The Federal Power Regulatory Fee is contemplating new guidelines that may make it more durable for utilities to cost ratepayers for the lobbying efforts and political actions of commerce associations just like the American Gasoline Affiliation.

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