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Xcel customers will see higher electric bills next month

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The state Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy's 9 percent interim rate hike starting Jan. 1, increasing electric bills about $8 per month, the Star Tribune reports.

The increase of $250 million is needed to compensate for investments in power plant upgrades, counter a drop in electric sales and higher property taxes.

Residential customers will also play an extra $2 for the basic service charge as part of the increase.

The newspaper says the interim rate hike will go into effect while Xcel seeks an even larger rate increase of $285 million or 10.7 percent in 2013. Xcel says the company still needs to recover from investments in the CapX2020 transmission line upgrades among other things.

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