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Give Black Hills Energy the Cold Shoulder

When was the last time you received a 21.6 percent raise within two years? That's what Black Hills Energy, which serves the Pueblo area and surrounding region, is asking of its customers. After raising rates by 10 percent in 2010 to pay for the acquisition of the former utility, Aquila, Black Hills is for 11.6 percent more.

See Also: AARP CO rallied the troops to oppose Black Hills Energy rate hike

The utility originally requested a rate hike of 22 percent. After Black Hills’ customers turned out to oppose the rate hike, the company cut its original proposal nearly in half. Black Hills is now proposing an 11.6 percent increase.

For low-income families and older adults on fixed incomes, this is also too high. The median income in Pueblo is 27 percent less than the statewide average. The average Pueblo residential customer is already paying Black Hills about $85 per month, according to Scott England, a staff economist for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, who was quoted in The Pueblo Chieftain.

AARP Colorado has been at the forefront of this fight.

“The first thing we did when we heard of this was alert the media,” said AARP Colorado Communications Director Angela Cortez. “We then organized our volunteers to attend a preliminary hearing before the Public Utilities Commission. Next, we are continuing our activism by alerting the Pueblo community to continue to put pressure on the PUC and Black Hills Energy.”

A formal rate hearing before the commission begins Oct. 31 in Denver. The PUC has until the end of the year to make a determination on the rate hike.

“It is time for AARP members to make their voices heard again,” said AARP State Director Morie Smile.

If you feel another increase of 11.6 percent is too much, call 303-894-2070, toll-free 1-800-456-0858, or contact the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.