Seniors, state agencies say Xcel Energy rate hike request too high

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Minnesota’s largest utility Xcel Energy has told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that it needs a rate hike of hike of $291 million — or 10.4 percent — over two years.

KARE reports that the proposed increase would raise an average residential customer's bill by an estimated $10 a month; the request would raise rates by 4.6 percent in 2014 and an additional 5.6 percent in 2015. If approved, the rate increase would be the sixth in eight years.

On Monday, the first of seven public hearings on the rate hike was held at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota's Commerce Department, which analyzes utility rates on behalf of consumers, wants regulators to reject 60 percent of the requested hike because it says that Xcel overstated both its costs and its projected revenue shortfall. The Minnesota attorney general’s office also has questioned Xcel’s request for higher rates.

In addition, the AARP, which lobbies on issues that impact older Americans, is mobilizing its 650,000 Minnesota members to speak against the increase. The newspaper added that AARP said that 600 people have submitted written comments opposing it.

"Break that down, 10 bucks a month. That may seem nominal to a lot of folks but for people still struggling to make ends meet, that are seeing prescription drugs increase, everything on rise except for their income. Makes it difficult," said Will Phillips, AARP Minnesota State Director.

Xcel regional vice president Chris Clark said that while the rate hike would present a hardship to some customers, the utility must have the resources to secure reliable service in the future.

"We are very well aware anytime we are requesting an increase we are requesting an additional cost to our customers. That said, we are focusing on investing in our system in our long term," Clark said.

Xcel has said that it needs the money generated by higher rates to pay for upgrades in older power plants and the electric grid and to cover increased costs and a projected 2014 revenue shortfall. In a press release. The company said the importance of a resilient electric grid was underscored during the June 2013 Minnesota storms that left half of Xcel's 1.2 million Minnesota customers without power.

There are more public hearings scheduled this week. Times and locations can be found here. After the hearings are complete, an administrative law judge will preside over a trial-like evidentiary hearing in August and will likely issue a recommendation on rates in December. The state Public Utilities Commission will make the final decision, probably in 2015.

This embed is invalid

Next Up

Liam Robbins

Gophers stay perfect at home by crushing 7th-ranked Michigan

Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr were too much for the previously undefeated Wolverines.

police lights

Four teens arrested over robberies in Minneapolis

They teens were found in a vehicle that was taken during an earlier carjacking.

Boundary Waters/BWCA

All BWCA visitors will now have to watch three 'Leave No Trace' videos

Visitors left an "unacceptably high amount" of damage last year.

ambulance

Ten fatal overdoses in past 6 weeks reported in region of northern MN

Law enforcement agencies have issued a plea to the general public.

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Bracing for security threats, federal courthouses closing in Minnesota

Security is also being ramped up at the state capitol.

N95 mask

3M sues Florida company that sold 10K counterfeit N95 masks to HCMC

The Maplewood company has obtained a temporary injunction against the firm.

vaccine, covid

Walz, Whitmer, and Evers call on Trump Admin. to buy more vaccines

It comes after The Washington Post reported that the country's COVID vaccine reserves have been exhausted.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Related