Minn. AG Swanson aims to limit interim utility rate hikes

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Minnesota's Attorney General Lori Swanson wants state lawmakers to pass legislation that would end automatic interim rate hikes by public utilities, the Star Tribune reports. Swanson first pushed for the Legislature to change the law nearly three years ago.

In the last five years, Swanson's office says public utilities collected about $525 million in temporary electric and gas rate hikes, but nearly $177 million were later refunded to customers after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission conducted full rate hearings.

Swanson said, “Minnesota consumers should not be a bank for utilities. Rate hikes should not be automatic, even temporarily,” Echo Press reports.

The renewed call comes as Xcel Energy, the state's largest electric utility based in Minneapolis, begins charging its Minnesota customers a 9 percent interim rate hike on Jan. 1 -- increasing electric bills about $8 per month. Xcel is seeking an even larger rate increase of 10.7 percent.

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