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Public utility commission filings can be lengthy, but fertile docs

Mark Jaffe of the Denver Post admits he does something most reporters don’t: He actually reads public utility commission filings.

The Denver Post SmartGridCity

Illustration: The Denver Post's Severiano Galvan

“All of the information is there, but nobody ever reads it,” Mark says. “Companies count on the fact that no one will read it.”

Those filings helped Mark write a detailed look at Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity project launched five years ago in Boulder, Colo. Mark’s story says the projects combine “enhanced communication through two-way, or ‘smart,’ meters with sensors, software and computers.” Digging into the filings showed the problems Xcel had with costs, technology and suppliers.

The project’s document trail increased significantly when Xcel sought approval to recover its costs through customer rate increases, Mark says. That meant the company had to provide documents about what happened internally. Mark says he read a conservative estimate of 10,000 pages.

When Mark read through files for a previous Xcel rate increase request, he found charges for bagels and doughnuts.

He says the filings are fertile for reporting, but warns reading them may take reading glasses and a Rockstar energy drink.

In Best Practices, Energy | Utilities | Mining, Featured, Rosland Gammon.

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