Minn. Commerce Dept. insists Xcel rate hike still too high

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Although Xcel Energy reduced its proposed $285 million rate increase, the Pioneer Press reports the hike remains too high for the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Last November, Minnesota's largest power company  proposed an increase of nearly 11 percent. The Commerce Department asked Xcel to drop the increase to $94 million. The utility countered by scaling back the request to $220 million, or an 8 percent hike.

Now the Commerce Department has reiterated its position that Xcel is overestimating some costs while underestimating revenue. The Commerce Department recommends a $90 million increase, representing a 2-3 percent hike.

Judy Poferl, President and CEO of Xcel's Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota expressed disappointment in the recommendation.

"We continue to believe our requested increase is reasonable and necessary," she said.

Xcel has been granted a 9 percent interim rate hike of $251 million this year. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will decide the final increase. If it is less than the interim rate, customers will get refunds.

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