Electricity and electric cost adjustment are the major part of the utility bill from the city.

Were you shocked when you got your electric bill this month? No pun intended. This month a certain bill was $287.19, as compared with $137.25 the month before. The culprit was the electricity, $115.08 for electricity and $63.77 for the electric cost adjustment.

The electric cost adjustment was over half the whole electric bill. City Finance Director Aliza Libby-Tucker furnished the actual figures for the rate paid by the city. If the Arkansas River Power Authority had to pay more for the power, the difference is made up by the electric cost adjustment. Twenty years ago, sometimes the electric cost adjustment was deducted, because the city did not use as much electricity as budgeted. The base rate per kilowatt hour to the City of La Junta is 0.1088. The electric cost adjustment was 0.049320. "The difference times your usage KWH is the electric cost adjustment," said Tucker.

Our heaters have worked harder last month because of the number of extremely cold nights. But the real culprit is the space heater. “A space heater is a real kilowatt-eater,” said Tucker. Her husband had an electric heater in his shop and she had one in her office attached to the shop. She replaced them with propane heaters and noticed a great difference in her bill. The customer whose bill is cited above has an electric space heater in the garage, where the washer and dryer are located. The garage is insulated on three sides, but the door is metal and isn’t an airtight fit. She is unwilling risk her washer freezing and fears propane space heaters as fire hazards.

Electric line superintendent Ruben DeLeon contributed to this article. He said he and his wife usually keep the thermostat at 50, but it has been so cold this year he had to turn it up to 68 to keep the house warm. DeLeon also said he has a list of rates for other Colorado city’s utilities, and we are at about a midpoint. He is willing to share the list, which will be published when he sends it. Our sewer rate has gone up to $47 (up about $5) to help pay for the bonds for the new sewer plant. The bond paying for the Reverse Osmosis plant is the $17 water facility charge. It will be paid off in 2022. However, the news about the RO units at the last utilities board meeting was not encouraging.

We are a relatively old city with aging infrastructure. Fortunately, we have been able to keep up with the times and even help other nearby communities. The Water Department has secured some water rights which we have not had to use, but another drought is always possible. If you have questions about the utilities, please feel free to call (719) 384-2546, which will take you directly to the utilities department.