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Colfax receives $23,000 Xcel Energy credit for overbilling

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  Imagine Lynn Niggemann’s surprise when she opened the Xcel Energy December bill, and instead of an amount due, saw a credit of nearly $23,000.

Since she had no idea where the credit had come from, Niggemann, the village’s administrator-clerk-treasurer, told the Colfax Village Board at the January 8 meeting she had called the company right away.

As it turned out, the credit went back as far as 2008.

In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the Village of Colfax had been overbilled for electricity, mostly for street lights, Niggemann said.

Xcel Energy has now converted the street lights in Colfax to LED lights, which are much more energy efficient.

The village would like to switch the street lights owned by the village to LED as well, Niggemann said.

The village could have taken the credit as a credit with no amount due on the electric bill until the credit had been used up, or the village could request a check.

Niggemann said she had requested a check.

The check from Xcel Energy is expected to arrive within six to eight weeks.

This would be a chance to change out the lights on Main Street to the more energy-efficient LEDs as well as other street lights owned by the village, said Rand Bates, director of public works.

For the decorative lights on Main Street, it is not simply a matter of changing the bulbs — the entire head of the light has to be changed out, he said.

Bates said he had put in a call to find out what it would cost to convert the decorative lights to LED and that he was waiting to hear back about the amount.

Village Trustee Carey Davis asked how much the village was saving on electricity for street lights already converted to LED lights.

The village is saving about $5,000 per year, Niggemann said.

The check the village will be receiving will be $24,073 to reflect the credit plus some interest, she said.

Niggemann said she had not received a specific explanation for the credit other than that the village had been over-billed.

Prior to the street project on Main Street when the decorative lights were installed, Xcel Energy owned all of the street lights, said Gary Stene, village president.

Stene said he suspected the overbilling had something to do with the village-owned street lights.

According to the summary enclosed with the notification of the credit, Colfax is receiving a credit of $570 for the “sewer plant” on state Highway 170; $450 for Well House No. 3; $10,750 for streetlight No. 1 at 626 Main Street; $409 for the village hall; $3,117 for streetlight No. 2 at 1022 University Avenue; $8,163 for streetlight No. 3 at 600 University Avenue; $322 for the water tower; $51 for the ball field warming house; $298 for Well House No. 2; $91 for the Colfax Fairgrounds; $360 for Well House No. 1; $5,215 for streetlight No. 4 at 118 Fifth Avenue; and $611 for the rescue squad portion of the Department of Public Works building.