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Law judge finds Xcel rate request too high

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A state administrative law judge found that Xcel Energy's request for a 10.7 percent electric rate hike is too high.

The Star Tribune reports that Judge Jeanne Cochran recommended that the Minnesota electric utility be allowed to increase rates by 4.7 percent. Cochran found the utility this year likely will take in $26 million more than it projected and so it does not need as large of a rate hike.

The state Public Utilities Commission will ultimately set the new rates. The PUC is expected to arrive at a decision later this year.

If the PUC accepts Cochran's recommendation, Xcel customers would pay more than they did last year, but less than they do now. That’s because since Jan. 1, Xcel customers have paid 9 percent more in interim rates.

Last November, Xcel asked for an 11.7 percent rate hike, but has twice reduced the request. Most recently, the electric utility said it would take a 7.8 percent increase. The Minnesota Commerce Department said Xcel deserved only a 3.7 percent bump.

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