Natural gas prices trending up nationally were cited by Minnesota-based Xcel Energy for its latest higher retail gas charges at its Colorado combination utility as part of its quarterly price adjustments for retail electric and gas rates. Overall, Xcel said total utility bills in Colorado will be lower in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, but on an annual basis, “a national trend in higher natural gas commodity prices” will continue to put upward pressure on utility bills. Under the quarterly gas cost adjustment, the cost of natural gas in the third quarter will be slightly higher than the second quarter, but because of a “significant drop” in use expected in the summer quarter, residential bills will be about $8 lower/month, compared to the current quarter, Xcel said. Residential gas bills in the third quarter will still be $3.15 more than they were in the third quarter last year. “Much of 2012 was marked by historically low gas prices,” Xcel said. Typical monthly residential and small business gas bills during the third quarter are expected to be $21.98 and $81.73, respectively, compared to average bills of $18.83 and $68.81, respectively, in the third quarter of 2012.

An airfoil manufacturing technology that promises to improve the performance of natural gas turbines has been commercialized through research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Siemens Energy Inc., which licensed the technology in 2011, has opened a facility in Charlottesville, VA, employing Mikro Systems technology to manufacture improved airfoils. DOE Small Business Innovation Research grants funded the research and development that advanced the capabilities of Mikro Systems’ technology, as well as the work that led to the technology’s manufacturing readiness, DOE said.

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