Small Colorado mountain restaurant gets massive Xcel Energy bill


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Xcel charged Thai Kitchen for a lifetime’s worth of energy until its owner said she would call 9NEWS.

MINTURN, Colo. — In the mountains, the cost of living is just a bit more.

At Thai Kitchen in Minturn, just outside Vail, the cost of living in the mountains took an unexpected turn.

“The bill is shocking me because it’s a big number,” Patty, owner of Thai Kitchen, said.

Her restaurant seats about two dozen. It is only open five hours a day, five days a week.

In January, she received an Xcel bill that showed her restaurant used 999,929 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy over seven days in December.

An average home uses about 10,000 kWh of energy in a year.

That amount equals about 100 years’ worth of electricity for a home.

That amount of energy totaled $110,000.

When you add in the rest of the month, the gas part of the bill and the $10,000 in sales tax, she owed an astonishing amount.

“The bill come up at $125,000-something,” Patty said. “I make a phone call right away to Xcel Energy. And I talked to somebody on the phone, and they said they will fix — it clearly, it’s wrong.”

Patty said that customer service warned it could take four-to-six weeks to adjust.

At eight weeks, she received her monthly bill that still showed a balance of $125,167.45.

Separate from that bill, she also received a letter from Xcel dated March 14 with a warning.

“This is a final notice of discontinuance of utility service…” the letter starts. “You must act promptly to avoid utility shut off.”

The letter was a notice of disconnection.

“We must receive a payment of the arrears of $124,183.54 in our office on or before 04/01/2024 or your gas and/or electric service may be discontinued.”

 “I tell the lady over the phone, like if it’s not going to be fixed, I’m going to reach out to the news, 9NEWS,” Patty said.

Patty said that that phone call was at the start of the week before Easter.

She said she was told to wait five-to-seven days, but never heard back.

She called again on Tuesday.

“And when I called, she said she put me on hold right away. She remembered who I am. She said give me five minutes. And after five minutes, I refresh the computer, the price would change, the number would change,” Patty said.

Her bill was back to normal, which she said is usually around $300-$500.

In a statement, Xcel said, “Our Customer Care team has resolved the customer’s bill to reflect their actual energy use. They should experience no further issues, and we apologize to our customer for the confusion surrounding this issue as well as the duration it took to fully resolve.”

In a follow up with Xcel Energy, the company said that it was human error when installing a smart meter that resulted in the nearly million kWh error. And it was also a customer service error with a missed data entry that would have prevented the disconnection notice from being sent to the restaurant.

The company said that the level of urgency with customer service is expected regardless of a threat to contact 9NEWS.

Xcel said that there are, indeed, customers that receive monthly bills more than $100,000.

More from 9NEWS on Xcel Energy:

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Small Colorado mountain restaurant gets massive Xcel Energy bill

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