Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy filed with Colorado regulators Wednesday to make utility rate decreases effective Oct. 1 for both electric and natural gas customers. The proposals are part of the quarterly adjustments made for both energy services, and the power rate changes come as seasonal tiered rates expire.

A Denver-based Xcel spokesperson said he expected a high level of local interest in the adjustments, given their size and the fact that the new summer tier rates drew a lot of news media and consumer interest when they went into effect in June.

A 12.6% average drop in residential electric customer bills is proposed by Xcel, resulting from a combination of the four-month summer tiered charges expiring and projections for decreased fuel and purchased power costs for Xcel's Public Service Company of Colorado utility. An estimated 5.1% drop in electricity bills is expected on average for small business customers who were not on tiered rates.

Separately, the utility filed its quarterly gas cost adjustment (GCA), projecting 4% and 5% reductions for residential and small business gas utility customers, respectively. "Residential and small business customers should see a 6% reduction in natural gas prices starting Oct. 1 when compared to prices for the fourth quarter of last year," the Xcel spokesperson said.

The electric cost adjustment (ECA) and GCA filings were made to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which earlier had approved the end of the two-tier electric rates Oct. 1. The PUC needs to act on both the gas and electric rate reduction requests before they can be put into effect.

Typical monthly electric bills after Oct. 1 are expected to drop nearly $9 to $62.44 on average, Xcel said in its filing. Summertime rates that broke down into two tiers to recognize higher energy use will decline back to a rate that remains effective for the next eight months.

"The program was designed to reflect Xcel's higher costs of providing services in the summer and to reduce energy use during the peak-use time of the year," the utility spokesperson said.

In the gas filing, prices for both residential and small business customers are estimated to drop a little more than 3 cents/therm, starting Oct. 1, compared to the fourth quarter of 2009. Residential prices are expected to be 52.78 cents/therm, compared to 55.96 cents/therm for the last quarter in 2009, and small business charges will be 53 cents/therm, compared to 56.2 cents/therm in the fourth period last year.

Residential monthly gas bills will drop by about $3/month, and small business customer bills will drop by about $15/month, compared to the same period last year.

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