AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Xcel Energy customers in Texas and New Mexico used more electricity than normal keeping cool during August, and likely are seeing higher bills as a result.
August was an exceptionally hot month across Xcel Energy’s Texas-New Mexico service territory. The National Weather Service in Amarillo reported the average high temperature in the city was 96.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Lubbock’s average high was 97.7 degrees, and Roswell was even hotter at 100.6 degrees. This was 8%, 7% and 10%, respectively, above normal highs for the month of August. Across the entire month, the average temperature was above normal, if not well above normal, every day except one.
“Our air-conditioners use a lot of power, and when we have a month of consistently high temperatures, air conditioners have to run longer to keep the temperature inside at the desired thermostat setting,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “Electricity prices are actually lower per kilowatt-hour than this time last year. It’s the higher-than normal use of air conditioning that caused our August bills to go up.”
Xcel Energy recorded the highest demand on its regional transmission network Aug. 26. At 5 p.m. that day, the system was loaded with 6,198 megawatts. A megawatt is equal to a million watts of electricity demand.
Fortunately, a planned $16 million fuel cost refund will soon appear on customer bills, returning $14.53 to a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours in a month. The one-time refund will show as a credit and be based on September use. The refund may be spread over two months, since many customers are on billing cycles that straddle two calendar months.
The refund reflects an earlier period of low costs for natural gas. In addition to the refund, at the beginning of July, the fuel cost factor was reduced to reflect the lower costs of purchased electricity and fuel to run generators at area power plants. The July reduction translated into an overall bill decrease of 5%.
Xcel Energy offers information on ways to use electricity more efficiently, which helps lower bills. Additionally, the company offers rebate programs that incentivize efficiency efforts, as well as an average billing option that smooths out high-use months such as August. More information can be found at xcelenergy.com under the Programs & Rebates link found at the top of the homepage.