By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – Potentially millions of Coloradans are seeing a drastic spike in their utility bills to start 2022. Coloradans have reported a significant increase in due payments when it comes to their electricity, propane and natural gas.

Some say they’ve seen natural gas bills jump anywhere from 10-to-30% to start the year.

Many who saw the spikes were confused as to why they were seeing a dramatic increase in their bills, especially during a moderate winter which hasn’t demanded as much need for heating.

(credit: CBS)

Heather Daves, a resident in Westminster, said her natural gas bill with Xcel Energy jumped more than $60 compared to the month prior.

“We don’t do much right now because the cost of everything going up. And, then our energy going up $60? I don’t know how this can’t affect everyone daily,” Daves told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “With gas prices, groceries, milk, eggs everything. It is insane and crazy. How are we supposed to adjust to this when we have been paying a certain price for so long and then all a sudden everything goes up? It is hard.”

Daves isn’t alone, nor is Xcel Energy. While Xcel Energy didn’t return requests for information or comment for this report, Atmos Energy acknowledged their prices were increasing for natural gas. Atmos, which supplies natural gas for many in northern, southeastern and southwestern Colorado, notified customers their bills would likely go up by around 10%.

RELATED: Utility Bills Expected To Increase By Double Digits This Winter, But Xcel Energy’s Home Energy Squad Can Help

“It has been an incredibly moderate winter. So, for our energy bill to spike $60 is insane to me. I don’t know where these prices are coming from,” Daves said.

Atmos cited a significant weather disruption to the supply chain on President’s Day in 2021. When CBS4 looked back to the weather report in Colorado at that time the only noticeable concern for that weekend was one cold night. However, in Texas there were hundreds of thousands of consumers without power or gas due to a winter storm.

(credit: CBS)

Theresa Kullen, a manager with Colorado’s Low Income Energy Assistance program, said the utility industries did see a spike in costs directly associated with Texas’ power issues in February of 2021.

“There was a scarcity in the amount of natural gas,” Kullen said.

When the shortage took place, many energy companies jumped into the market and started buying larger quantities of the supply chain. That, alongside issues associated with income assistance being cut off during the pandemic, is believed to be a contributing factor in why more Coloradans are now seeking out financial aid with their utility bills.

“It is concerning for everyone that is facing struggling paying their heating bills, and seeing an increase in the cost,” Kullen said.

Kullen said her office has seen 13,000 more applications this month compared to previous months. The increase is about nine percent.

RELATED: Rising Energy Costs Could Leave Some Coloradans In The Cold And Dark, But There Is Help

Kullen encouraged anyone experiencing financial challenges to consider applying for help. One can submit an application online, by phone or by mail. Doing so can help those in need avoid any potential embarrassment they may feel when it comes to seeking help in-person.

“It is a very significant number of people that are needing assistance and qualifying,” Kullen said. “We can help with past due or high arrearage bills. We are here to help and we have the funding to help.”

The assistance programs come without any requirement to repay the government for the assistance received. If you need help visit https://cdhs.colorado.gov/leap to see if you qualify.

According to Atmos Energy the increase in rates should only impact the average customer by around $5 per month. A spokesperson for the company said Colorado law prohibits them from profiting from the increased rates, meaning the higher bills come to cover costs of purchasing the natural gas.

Atmos said those who qualify for assistance through the state are typically exempt from the increased rates.

The following breakdown was provided by Atmos Energy.

North Colorado Division:
• EGCRR: $0.06809 per ccf
• Recovery Period: 2/1/22 through 1/31/24 (2 years)
• Monthly Bill Impact: about 7-9% increase
• Projected average monthly residential bill: $68.78 (up from $64.56)

Southeast Colorado Division:
• EGCRR: $0.09633 per ccf
• Recovery Period: 2/1/22 through 1/31/23 (1 year)
• Monthly Bill Impact: about 10-14% increase
• Projected average monthly residential bill: $61.97 (up from $56.28)

Southwest Colorado Division:
• EGCRR: $0.03170 per ccf
• Recovery Period: 2/1/22 through 1/31/23 (1 year)
• Monthly Bill Impact: about 4-5% increase
• Projected average monthly residential bill: $56.79 (up from $54.85)

Dillon Thomas