Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Xcel and LEAP

Yeah, long time no post...

So I’ve started a new thing; whenever I feel someone has slighted me in a business transaction, I give that amount to a charity (provided I can afford it). I’m not sure exactly how this plays out logically but it makes me feel much better about getting ripped off and requires much less effort than getting angry, filing a small claims suit, etc… Maybe I’m creating justice from injustice, or maybe I’m just demonstrating better character. Don’t know.

In Colorado we have an energy assistance fund called LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) run by Energy Outreach Colorado
. I’ve been familiar with the fund for some time thanks to my monthly Xcel bill which encourages a one time donation or a recurring amount which can be added to my monthly Xcel bill. Xcel also claims to match customer contributions.

The LEAP fund came to mind after I read a story at 9 News about 47,000 customers in the Denver metro area having their power/gas cutoff for non-payment.

After doing some research on Xcel's website (digging deep) I found out that Xcel actually only matches the first $1M of donations for 2008. The fund already has an estimated $7M for 2008 (which does not mean they'll have enough to meet the need in the community according to their financials). Meanwhile, Xcel claims credit for "raising" the money that its customers donate to the fund over the matching limit.

So I decided to give directly to Energy Outreach Colorado via their website which checked to see if there was any available matching programs from Xcel or my employer (no, there wasn't).

Each time Xcel gets hammered in the local media for raising rates they are always quick to point to LEAP which I now know is somewhat dishonest since the customers are putting up the majority of the contributions. While $1M might seem like a large contribution, consider that Xcel recently gave $1.1M to Democratic National Convention for the convention in Denver. I make this comparison because the DNC contribution is party money, while LEAP funds help the low income, elderly, and disabled keep their lights on and stay warm.

Xcel obviously does not have its priorities straight.

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