Among those customers hard hit in Colorado in the aftermath of February's winter storm is the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden.
JIM BENEMANN: If you got hit with a big power bill for February, you've got some company. For example, the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden really got clobbered.
KAREN LEIGH: Yeah, part of the blame goes to Texas and its energy problems during that rare snowstorm. Rick Sallinger joins us live tonight from the animal shelter. So Rick, how has this huge bill impacted the shelter there?
RICK SALLINGER: Well, Karen, for one, they were going to buy a new van to help transport animals here. Now that's off the table, and they're seeking donations for help all around.
The animals here are nice and warm, but it comes at a cost-- a big cost. This was Foothills Animal Shelter's natural gas bill for the month of February. That's right, over $21,000, seven times normal.
- Shock, absolutely. Disbelief. I thought it had to be a mistake.
RICK SALLINGER: It wasn't. Remember when Texas got pounded by snow and cold, and so did Colorado? Well, what happened then had a big impact here. Foothills gets its gas from WoodRiver Energy, which is not regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission.
- What I'm told is that it was a supply and demand issue, that there was not enough supply, and so pricing for gas and other energy is done on a daily basis.
RICK SALLINGER: WoodRivers' website has a message about the weather's impact on the market. It also offers customers like Foothills a way to budget their payments, rather than through a variable plan. But what the shelter would have preferred is a warning.
- There's things that we could have done on our end to help save-- just cut down on the gas bill.
RICK SALLINGER: Like consolidate the animals into a few rooms. OK, maybe not the dogs with the cats or with the rooster or even the pig.
But the animals are just fine and waiting for someone to give them a home.
The energy company is going to give the shelter 20% off that bill and put them on a monthly payment plan. And as far as customers who get their energy from companies regulated by the PUC, well, they could be hit, too, in the future. Live in Golden, Rick Sallinger, covering Colorado First.