As residents ring in the new year, they might consider partying by candlelight.
Colorado Springs Utilities is seeking rate increases for use of electricity and natural gas in its 2014 budget, which, if approved, would kick in Jan. 1.
For a typical residence, the proposed 3.4 percent increase for electricity and 2.2 percent increase for natural gas adds up to $3.38 a month.
Coupled with an 11.7 percent water rate increase that starts Jan. 1, typical users will pay $9.37 more a month in utilities in 2014, or more than $112 a year.
City Council will host a public hearing Nov. 12 to discuss the proposed electric and natural gas rate increases.
The rate hikes are part of Utilities' proposed 2014 operating budget, which also will be presented to the council Nov. 12. The proposed Utilities budget is $94.9 million more than 2013, bringing the annual budget to $1.154 billion.
The rate increases are needed to cover two big-ticket capital expenses, said Dave Grossman, Utilities spokesman.
"The electric rate increase is driven by capital investments to comply with the new, stricter EPA emission standards," Grossman said. "The work being done at Drake Power Plant is a significant capital investment for us over the next few years."
Utilities expects to spend $51.6 million on Martin Drake and Ray Nixon coal-fired power plants in 2014 to comply with the emission regulations. The last electric rate increase was in November 2012.
The proposed rate increase in natural gas would cover the cost of implementing new regulations and repairing corroded lines and natural gas leaks, Grossman said.
"With the utility budget, there is a balance between expenditures and providing safe, reliable service and keeping rates as low as possible," he said.
Thousands of Colorado Springs businesses will see higher electric and natural gas bills, too, if the rate increases are approved. Commercial businesses would see .23 percent increase in monthly bills while industrial businesses would see a 5 percent increase in monthly bills. In 2012, the City Council approved an 11.7 percent water rate increase for 2013 and for 2014 to cover the cost of building the Southern Delivery System, the 53-mile pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs. Utilities expects to spend $178 million on the pipeline project in 2014 and is on track to complete it by 2016.
Wastewater rates will not go up in 2014.
"Each of the rates for four services is based on what we anticipate our expenses will be," Grossman said.