by Pam Zubeck
Colorado Springs Utilities is asking for a small rate increase to support its $1.059 billion budget for next year, which reflects a $52 million drop from this year's spending plan. The city enterprise forecasts the typical residential customer will see a $1 per month increase in bills in 2013, compared to 2012.
Utilities is under pressure to cough up money for stormwater management, but its budget doesn't contain a hefty amount for that. That's because the utility has no tariff for stormwater, which is required before Utilities can charge customers for a service.
Mayor Steve Bach has basically demanded that Utilities, over which he has no City Charter authority except to sign contracts, help pay for some $300 million in stormwater projects. City Council oversees Springs Utilities as the Utilities Board, so it will be up to Council whether to add a stormwater allocation to the budget and how much.
The 2013 budget includes a $31.1 million "surplus" payment to the city general fund from the electric utility.
Utilities explains in a press release:
Colorado Springs Utilities is proposing a base rate change resulting in a $2.48 increase to the typical electric bill and a $0.47 increase for natural gas. However, these changes and the water rate increase approved in June are expected to be mostly offset by decreases in electric and natural gas fuel cost adjustments. The fuel cost decreases will be proposed in December.
"Through responsible planning, lean operations and a balanced capital investment strategy, we continue to do all we can to reduce or hold costs flat," said CEO Jerry Forte. "We are able to protect customers from a significant change to their bill even with the investments required to build the Southern Delivery System, further improve air quality, and repair damage from the Waldo Canyon fire."
A public hearing on the rate changes is slated for November 13 at City Hall. The rate case can be seen at www.csu.org.