The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) and Community for Sustainable Energy (CforSE) are partnering together to advocate for the City of Fort Collins to adopt a methane fee structure that doesn’t impact residents and helps businesses reduce methane consumption and energy costs.

Currently, everyone in Fort Collins pays a “franchise fee” of 1.07% on their natural gas (methane) bill. This fee is collected by Xcel Energy and returned to the City to use however it pleases. City Council is currently planning to triple that fee to 3.0%, the maximum amount allowed. This fee hike does not need to be approved by voters. Council can do this on their own.

The City estimates the fee increase would bring in an additional $1.3 million per year. Council plans to use these funds to pay for designated climate initiatives. The problem is that almost anything in the City budget can be construed as having a climate impact, so funds from this fee could be diverted to other City priorities.

Fort Collins voters approved a ½% sales tax increase last November for parks and recreation, transit, and climate programs. Both the sales tax and the franchise fee are regressive: low and middle-income people will pay a larger portion of their incomes for these charges than higher income people and businesses. Council waited until after the tax passed to consider raising the fee. Would voters have approved the tax if the fee were raised first?

Fortunately, there is a better alternative to help pay for reducing pollution than increasing everyone’s heating bills. The City could instead adopt a “Large Methane User Fee” of 5% or more on methane use above a threshold that would only apply only to large commercial and industrial customers who use significant amounts of methane. Unlike the City’s proposed franchise fee increase, this type of fee is legally required to be used to the benefit of those businesses impacted. The funds could not be diverted to other City projects.

Funds raised by the Large Methane User Fee could be directed back to the businesses to help cover up front capital expenses to electrify their systems and increase efficiency.  These actions save businesses money over time, and help the City reduce pollution and meet its climate goals.

For more background on the Large Methane User Fee proposal, check out this post on the FCSG’s website.

Please write a short, personalized email to Mayor Jeni Arndt and City Council:

To: CityCouncil@fcgov.com

Cc: cforse.fred@gmail.com

Tell them that you:

  • Do NOT want to the City to increase your natural gas franchise fee,
  • And want the City to instead adopt a “Large Methane User Fee” to help businesses fund their reduction of methane use.

Say whatever else you like. Feel free to use the above talking points. Please CC us and ask for a reply.

Thank you!