Colorado Springs Utilities unveils $87 million budget increase, the Southern Delivery System causes 12% increase in water rates

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (John Schroyer):

Utilities’ budget is projected to jump by 8.6 percent in 2012, an increase made possible by a 12 percent increase in water rates, a 5 percent increase in natural gas rates, and about a 1 percent increase in electricity rates.

Roughly three-quarters of the $87 million will be devoted to SDS work, and the remainder will go to other projects, such as the installation of new emissions-cleaning technology at Drake Power Plant, said Utilities Finance and Planning Chief Bill Cherrier.

The 187-page budget, which the Utilities Board is analyzing, also predicts that water, electricity and natural gas usage will remain flat throughout 2012. Hence the need for the rate increases. The budget likely will be approved by the board, comprised of City Council members, in December without any substantive changes…

Utilities plans to spend $333 million on coal and natural gas to power both Drake and other power plants, and will spend $310 million on capital projects, such as SDS. “That’s more than 60 percent of our budget,” Cherrier pointed out.

Water rates will continue to increase by 12 percent every year until SDS is completed, which is slated for 2016. After that, Cherrier said, rates should even out, and may even decrease. Utilities board and city council member Tim Leigh suggested Colorado Springs may even become a water broker for other Front Range municipalities once SDS is finished. “Not everyone has a pipeline to the Arkansas River,” Leigh said.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

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