Commercial Xcel customers: you may qualify for big savings

Do you own or manage a business that gets its electricity from Xcel? Do your monthly bills seem awfully high? If so, you may be eligible for big savings under a new rate structure that went into effect Sept. 10.

The change potentially applies to commercial customers who have been placed in the more expensive Secondary General (SG) rate class because they previously exceeded the “demand threshold” that regular commercial customers are allowed. Check your bill to see if you’re being charged at the SG rate.

Customers assigned the Commercial (C) rate are charged for energy based on the kilowatt-hours they use. Those who get bumped up to the SG rate pay for kilowatt-hours at a lower rate, but also have to pay a kilowatt demand charge that can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

Before Sept. 10, a commercial Xcel customer that drew more than 25 kW of power – even for just an instant – got locked into the SG rate and was required to stay on it for a minimum of 12 months. Now Xcel has raised the demand threshold to 50 kW, which should exempt most small businesses.

But Xcel will not automatically switch customers from the SG to the more favorable C rate; it's up to each business to request a review in light of the new demand threshold. So check your bill and make that call – it could be worth thousands of dollars a year.

Demand charges aren’t just an extra cost for businesses, they’re also a significant barrier to customers who want to use onsite solar to produce clean energy and control their operational costs. An on-site solar system will typically supply all the building’s electricity usage, so on average the customer will only have to pay the nominal service charges, but if the customer is also having to pay exorbitant demand charges the project won’t yield nearly as much savings. That’s why the Colorado Solar and Storage Association went to bat on this issue, persuading the Public Utilities Commission to require the change.

For more info, see Xcel's Business Rates page.