February energy bill costs surprise customers, providers

Extreme weather in February resulted in higher bills for many customers
The entrance to Grand Valley Power's office in Grand Junction, Colo.
The entrance to Grand Valley Power's office in Grand Junction, Colo.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:51 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colleen Rouse, along with many other Grand Valley Power (GVP) customers, received higher-than-normal bills for the month of February. Rouse, and wholesale power customer GVP, are asking questions about decisions taken by Xcel Energy.

According to, Tom Walch, Grand Valley Power CEO, the company had to pass the higher cost of power in February to its customers. Walch explained that GVP, as a co-op that operates on slim margins, had little room to absorb the higher bill it received from Xcel Energy, GVP’s provider. Walch also said that GVP was blindsided by Xcel in regards to the higher February costs. “We didn’t receive any notice about this from Xcel. They incurred these charges in the middle of February. The first I heard anything, that anybody had head anything, any of the wholesale customers, the co-op customers, heard about this, was in the very last business day of February.”

Walch said that GVP took out a loan to pay the higher bill from Xcel, and that customers have the option of paying their extra February charges over the next year. Colleen Rouse will be paying an extra $31 a month for the next twelve months, totaling to about $375.

Rouse shared her view that “I really don’t think that this is fair to the customers, or fair to small energy companies, that have to give it back to us as customers.”

GVP Communitcations Manager Christmas Wharton outlined actions GVP is taking in response to the situation. According to Wharton, “We’re mad too. We did not expect this fuel-cost adjustment to impact our members and it has. So we have a lot of questions for Xcel Energy, really. And this is why we are challenging them regarding this wholesale power bill that we received.”

Xcel Energy sent a statement that read in part that “While we follow natural gas price hedging policies to reduce the impact of price surges, we are not immune from extraordinary spikes in costs, such as those in February, and we took steps to mitigate the high costs, including using stored gas, switching fuel sources where possible, and interrupting service to customers who participate in those programs.”

In regards to GVP’s payment to Xcel to cover the February costs, Xcel’s statement read “Since the February cold weather event, we have worked closely with Grand Valley Power to offer flexibility by extending the timeframe over which the company could pay February’s fuel costs to the extent possible to provide immediate relief. Grand Valley Power declined this offer.”

Xcel Energy also explained that the company’s priority during the extreme winter weather was to ensure all customers had access to power, and that Xcel “does not make a profit from the natural gas we provide to customers.”

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