Xcel Energy is one of the true monopolies left, so unless you are a survivalist in the backwoods with no electricity, you are probably already a customer -- like it or not. XCel Energy's rates have skyrocketed lately, especially the cost of gas. Whether this is simply greed or a classic case supply and demand is hard to tell. Fortunately, we are now enjoying springtime weather, that glorious season between heat and air conditioning. Xcel's customer service is not too bad. Their automated pay-by-phone service is reliable enough, and for the few times I have needed to talk to a human at XCel, my wait time was not unreasonable.