Xcel Energy’s 2009-2010 energy conservation and efficiency plan, which it filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), will allow customers to save money, natural gas and electricity, the company said Monday.

The $138 million plan includes 35 electric and gas programs designed to save 244 million kWh and more than 400,000 Dth of natural gas within the first two years. Xcel said the plan is the first step in the company’s demand-side management program and is unique because it brings together the utility, customers and many segments of businesses that have not traditionally been called upon to reduce power usage.

“Not only will all segments of customers be encouraged to use less energy, we will also direct more help towards low-income customers to get though the second half of this winter — when heating bills are projected to be 30-50% higher than last year,” said Fred Stoffel, vice president of marketing for Xcel Energy.

The plan includes growth in the company’s electric energy efficiency program as well as introducing energy efficiency plans for gas customers. Customers will be eligible for rebates and incentive payments to reduce usage in both areas starting in 2009. The program calls for an initial reduction in electricity usage of more than 120 MW or 244,000 GWh by 2010. By the end of the first two years, gas customers are expected to save more than 403,000 Dth, according to the company.

The plan marks a different mix of programs than was originally filed with the PUC as a part of the Colorado Resource Plan in November 2007. The expanded efficiency programs will rely heavily on participation from customers and energy businesses to drive energy savings. “Ultimately, the success of these programs depends on our customers saying ‘yes.’ We can provide advice and recommendations about ways to save energy, but our customers need to take action to install more efficient appliances or to change the way they use energy,” said Stoffel. “If they do, they will lower their utility bills.”

The proposed programs also may help alleviate anticipated higher home heating bills in Colorado during the latter portion of the 2008-2009 heating season, and will help reduce the impact of high prices for many customers in future years as the programs are fully implemented, Xcel said.

Under the plan, all customers will see an increase in the demand-side management charge on their electric bills. Residential customers now pay about 74 cents per month for the demand-side management charge. Typical residential customer bills would increase to $74.89 a month, based on use of 625 kWh, an increase of $1.16. Typical small business customer bills would increase to $121.30 per month, based on use of 1,025 kWh, which would be an increase of $2.03 a month.

Typical residential gas customers are expected to see an increase of 78 cents per month. Overall bills would increase by less than 1% to $86.11, based on projected use of 67.6 therms per month averaged over 12 months. Small commercial customers would see an increase of about $1.26 per month based on a usage of 304 therms per month.

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