Energy rates set to increase

By Gabriel Monte: Freedom Newspapers

Energy company Xcel Energy is proposing a base-rate increase from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

The electric and natural gas company is seeking an overall increase of 6.6 percent from all customer classes.

Residential rates would increase by 7.3 percent a month for an average household that uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours. That’s the average electricity most households use, said Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves.

Reeves said there are about 18,000 Xcel meters in Clovis and about 6,000 in Portales.

He said rising fuel costs are motivating the energy company to upgrade to more efficient generators, which will lower costs in the long run.

“We’re really reliant on natural gas, and that’s caused our fuel prices to go up,” he said. “So one of the things we’re looking at doing is upgrading … a lot of what we have to burn fuel more efficiently and that would hopefully bring down the fuel costs.”

The need for more transmission lines is also spurring the increase, Reeves said.

“As the region has grown, we’re really at capacity with our transmission system,” he said.

Clovis Older Adults Division Director Vicky Miller said the rate increase would make a difference to households that live on a fixed income.

“It would depend on if you’ve got a house that’s been insulated, or what,” she said. “There’s a lot of these older houses that people still live in that aren’t insulated. I’m sure it’s going to affect a lot of them. (7 percent) could help us out a lot or hurt us.”

Nelson Rector, 74, who lives just outside of Portales, says with rising costs, it’s understandable that Xcel must raise rates to compete.
“They haven’t raised rates in more than 10 years,” Rector said. “I don’t think we have any gripes with this. Everything is going up and it’s tough but that’s the way it is. Everything else is going up, and their costs are going up.”

George Tillman, 80, of Portales wants to see the level of service rise with the rates.

“They’ve got a raise coming if everything else is going up,” Tillman said. “The service is what I’m interested in. This phone business is out of hand. I don’t care who you call — you can’t talk to nobody within an hour.”

Freedom Newspapers staff writer Mickey Winfield contributed to this report