Impact On Utility Rates After Power Plant Fire

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On Wednesday we will know what started the fire at the Martin Drake Power Plant in Colorado Springs.

A lot of folks are asking what this means for your utility bills and when the rates could go up.

Here’s why the rates could increase: it costs 2 cents per kilowatt hour to produce energy at the Drake Power Plant. Compare that to about 4 cents per kilowatt hour when it comes from other utility companies.

The chief financial officer for Colorado Springs Utilities says it's possible that we could start to see an increase on our bills as soon as June 1, but that is not set in stone.

Local mother Sarah White knows what to expect when her Springs utility bill comes in the mail every month.

“I average about $150 per month," White said.

But because of the massive fire at the Drake Power Plant, White’s bills could go up because Springs Utilities is having to buy power from other utility companies.

“The longer we have to run the other facilities and not the Drake Power Plant the more pressure it does push on cost,” John Romero, General Manager of Energy Services of Colorado Springs Utilities, explained.

Drake produces electricity by burning coal, but when Springs Utilities buys power off the market, it comes from plants that burn natural gas, roughly twice the cost of coal. Utilities says that may likely have a trickle down affect for customers. This is what it means for the average family.

"When you add that into a monthly bill, if you're roughly 600 kilowatt hours for a residential customer, you're adding on to a few dollars difference in the bill,” Bill Cherrier, CFO of Colorado Springs Utilities said.

For White, she plans to try to cut her utility use as much as she can.

“It’s not fun to pay more but that's kind of the cost of doing business, so I’ll just be turning off my lights more,” White said.

Those are just the possible scenarios. It will all depended on how long the plant is shut down. Utility crews are hoping to be able to get inside the plant soon to assess the damage.

Springs Utilities says their $500 million insurance policy only covers what happens at the plant. It does not cover the cost of buying replacement power.