Xcel bills: Decoding each charge, line by line



We took a real bill straight to Xcel and asked for a line-by-line explanation.

DENVER — Reading an Xcel bill these days requires a handful of TUMS.

The back of the bill is just as difficult to read. It describes the reason for each charge, if you can understand the explanation.

To use a line from Beetlejuice: “This thing reads like stereo instructions.”

Xcel Energy Regional Vice President for Regulatory and Pricing Steven Berman helped go line by line to describe the reason for each charge on the electric and gas bills.

Pull out your latest bill and buckle up.

ELECTRIC BILLS

These are charges for the meter on your home, having the meter read, getting billed and Xcel providing customer service.

“Things like a meter, our customer service organization and services that are generally fixed costs,” Berman said. “The piece of your bill related to the meter on your house, to our customer care organization, to other service organizations within the company like IT and finance, where those are fixed costs.”

RETOU On-Peak | RETOU Mid/Pk/Shoulder | RETOU Off-Peak

These are usage charges. For customers with a Smart Meter that are on Time-of-Use rates, these usage charges are broken down into three different lines, based on time-of-day:

  • The most expensive charge “RETOU On-Peak” is for usage from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the week.
  • Mid-Peak is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
  • Off-Peak is from 7 p.m. to 1 p.m. during the week, all day on the weekend and holidays.

Customers who are on general residential pricing will see this as one line on their bill.

What does this portion of the bill pay for?

“That’s going to cover everything across our service territory, all of our generating facilities, most of our transmission, our distribution, all of those things that are not considered service and facility,” Berman said.

GRSA E (General Rate Schedule Adjustment)

This is a rate change to cover Xcel’s costs of providing electricity that are not accounted for in the Time-of-Use or general pricing section.

“Step one is to come up with the total amount that the company needs to operate, and then step two is a separate proceeding, to divide that up and say, ‘How should it be divided between your residential, commercial, industrial, all of your different rate classes.’ Those two things happen at different times, and in between those two proceedings, we put kind of a peanut butter spread across those classes,” Berman said.

The GRSA represents a rate change before it gets built directly into the Time-of-Use or general pricing charge.

And it has to be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Colorado utility companies.

“Each of these lines has come about from some various proceeding in front of the commission, where the company has sought to recover costs that we spend on certain programs,” Berman said.

EGCRR (Extraordinary Gas Cost Recovery Rider)

This is a charge related to the February 2021 cold snap when Xcel had to buy really expensive natural gas to generate electricity. This is the charge, approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, to pay back Xcel for the purchase of that gas. The repayment on the electricity side of the bill will last through July 2024. This charge also shows up on the natural gas bill.

Trans Cost Adj (Transmission Cost Adjustment)

This is a fee for incremental transmission investment between base rate adjustments.

“All of your base rates here that you’re getting multiplied by your usage were set at a point in time, and for transmission investment we continue to be able to collect those investments as we incur them, in between the times that we change those rates on the top line,” Berman said. “So that’s a rider which is only collecting that incremental investment as it goes into service.”

ECA (Electric Commodity Adjustment)

This is the cost of the fuel used to generate the electricity you use.

“ECA is Energy Cost Adjustment. So, that’s actually your fuel cost. And that gets adjusted, those rates get adjusted quarterly based on what actual fuel costs are,” Berman said. “The company incurs costs for fuel, for coal, for gas, and we pass those costs on directly to customers with no markup.”

Because rates are changed every quarter, bills like the current bill Xcel customers are receiving, will have two lines for this charge. One ECA charge is for the December pricing, and the other ECA charge is for January.

“Your largest charge is your ECA, which is the actual fuel,” Berman said.

Demand Side Mgmt (Demand Side Management)

This is one of the charges that customers pay to help Xcel pay for incentives.

“Demand side management is costs the company spends in order to encourage energy efficiency, money that we spend with businesses to help them improve their lighting, improve their energy usage,” Berman said. “There are residential programs that customers can take advantage of in there.”

Those programs include having Xcel come to your home to give it an energy audit and rebates for purchasing energy efficient appliances.

“You’re paying in to develop programs that are available to all residential customers,” Berman said. “Incentivizing that energy efficiency reduces the need for the company to build more generation which would increase your top line.”

PurchCapCostAdj (Purchase Capacity Cost Adjustment)

This is a fee that pays Xcel for buying from third parties, since Xcel does not have the capacity to generate and reserve enough on its own.

“Not the actual energy, not the actual coal or gas, but it is capacity that we buy from a third party because we don’t have enough built in our system to have the capacity that we need,” Berman said.

Trans Elec Plan (Transportation Electrification)

This is to fund more incentive programs, particularly around electrification. This includes rebates for installing an electric vehicle charging station at your home.

“A lot of EV programs that the company has that EV owners can take advantage of,” Berman said. “Policy from the state to incentive EV adoption.”

Renew. Energy Std Adj (Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment)

This charge is 1% of the electric bill to fund renewable energy projects.

“Another rider to collect costs to fund renewable programs that the company is bringing renewable resources online, to pay for those,” Berman said.

Colo Energy Plan Adj (Colorado Energy Plan Adjustment)

This pays for the early retirement of multiple Xcel coal plants.

“The commission has approved the company to retire coal plants early, and this is a collection of costs to pay for that early retirement,” Berman said.

Energy Assistance Chg (Energy Assistance Charge)

This is a charge put in place by state lawmakers from a bill passed into law in 2021. There is a 75-cent charge on both the electric and gas bills to help fund energy payment assistance. And, it turns out, you can ask to not have to pay these charges.

“It’s a charge that customers can opt-out of, however, it’s standard on the bills, and those dollars go to help low income customers,” Berman said.

NATURAL GAS BILLS

This is the conversion from cubic feet of natural gas (volume) to the energy (Therms).

Just like the electricity side, these are charges for the gas meter on your home, having the meter read, getting billed and Xcel providing customer service.

This charge covers pipelines and storage, the means for how Xcel gets gas to your home.

This is a charge covering the cost for how Xcel moves gas onto its system.

This is your actual gas usage. Just like the ECA on the electric bill, the rate changes quarterly, so there can be a December charge at one rate and a January charge at another rate.

DSMCA (Demand Side Management Cost Adjustment)

Just like the electric side of the bill, this is one of the charges that customers pay to help Xcel pay for incentives.

GRSA-P (General Rate Schedule Adjustment – Pipeline System Integrity Adjustment)

Your eyes do not deceive you. This is a small credit on your bill. It reflects a rate change in our benefit. Xcel collected too much money for pipeline safety.

“If we over or under collect on those, there’s a true-up. You’ll notice that’s a credit. So there was an overcollection and we’re in the process of crediting that back to customers,” Berman said.

EGCRR (Extraordinary Gas Cost Recovery Rider)

This is a charge related to the February 2021 cold snap when Xcel had to buy really expensive natural gas. On your natural gas bill, this is to pay Xcel back for the gas it purchased that was used to heat your home during that short period in mid-February. It was approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The repayment on the natural gas side of the bill will last through January 2025.

GRSA (General Rate Schedule Adjustment)

This is a rate change to cover Xcel’s costs of providing natural gas that are not accounted for in the natural gas line item.

Energy Assistance Chg (Energy Assistance Charge)

Just like on the electricity side, this is a charge put in place by state lawmakers from a bill passed into law in 2021. There is a 75-cent charge on both the electric and gas bills to help fund energy payment assistance. To opt-out of this charge, you can contact 1-800-895-4999.

If you need energy assistance, you can contact 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435).

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