YVEA spokesman: July billing change not an overall cost increase

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— Editor's Note: This is a corrected version of the original story.

When Yampa Valley Electric Association announced it would keep rates unchanged for 2009, it caused confusion for at least a few customers.

The utility, which serves more than 26,000 people, sent out a letter in July announcing rate changes. Because of how Xcel Energy bills YVEA, the letter stated, customers' bills would look different. Cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity would increase about 2 cents, but an Xcel fuel adjustment would decrease to keep the total billed amount steady.

That change was a result of a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, allowing Xcel Energy to change its fuel base rate. FERC oversees wholesale energy transactions across the country.

Xcel had made the changes earlier, and YVEA just caught up in July, YVEA spokesman Jim Chappell said. Although the cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity increased from 5.6 cents to 7.8 cents, customers weren't paying more, Chappell said.

"Revenue to Yampa Valley Electric was neutral," Chappell said. "There was no rate increase to consumers; it was just a reorganization of the rates."

The fuel adjustment figure is a pass-through of what Xcel charges YVEA, he said. In recent months, the fuel line item has been a negative number. That's because of natural gas, Chappell said.

"The fuel cost being negative is directly in relation to the reduced cost of natural gas used for electric generation," he said.

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