By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – The owners of a Denver bowling alley are hoping for a change in policy after their utility bill doubled while they were closed during Colorado’s stay-at-home order.

“Well when we got our bill here this month, we were actually higher than we were last year at full operation, and so I called Xcel, and I said, ‘How could this possibly be?’ And they said, ‘Well, we bill on demand,’” said KC Falzgraf, co-owner of Crown Lanes.

(credit: CBS)

KC said he always thought utilities were based on usage and was shocked to learn that wasn’t the case. To him, a bill based on demand sounded more like a snapshot.

“They measure it in 15 minute increments any 15 minutes in a billing cycle, whatever the highest point is, that’s what determines your average usage and they bill you for it.”

For the Falzgraf family, that meant the average was taken from the six days in June when they reopened.

“I don’t think it’s illegal, but the ethics of it is what strikes me. When everybody’s trying to make ends meet and something like this happen? I really feel like it needs to get out there,” said KC.

The family bought and refurbished Crown Lanes in 2018 for their daughter Shanna, who passed away last year. It was Shanna’s dream to run the bowling alley for people of all abilities. Her passing, followed by COVID-19? Two big setbacks for the Falzgrafs. KC’s wife Jackie says the steep bill on top of it feels like a slap in the face.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 reached out to Xcel Energy Wednesday about the Falzgrafs’ claims. The company responded via email saying:

“We understand we are in challenging times as the country continues to work through the COVID19 pandemic. We established policies and protocols at the beginning of the pandemic to work with our customers who may have difficulty paying their bills during this time and continue to encourage our customers to reach out to us so we can work through this challenging time together.

Due to customer privacy issues, we can’t discuss individual customer accounts. What we can share with you is there are specific regulations in place that determine how customers, including business customers, are billed for electric and/or natural gas use.  We continue to work with customers on programs that will enable them to afford the electricity and gas service they continue to receive even when they are not operating as normal because of the pandemic.

Again, we encourage our customers to reach out to us if they are having difficulty paying their bills due to the pandemic.”

KC says he expects to pay the bill and says Xcel is allowing them to pay it in increments, but he still believes the policy should be changed.

“In a normal period of time, we wouldn’t probably question it because we would be fully operational and all, but in this time and age when everybody’s trying to survive? This really made… I feel like the public needed to know and understand how their utility is being billed.”

Jamie Leary

  1. Where is the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in this article?!? Did the paragraphs describing Crown Lanes’ complaint to the PUC somehow get omitted? Please correct this right away.

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