Xcel customers could soon be getting a refund on their electricity bills

Minnesota's biggest utility has proposed 3 ways it can use its tax savings.
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The corporate tax cuts passed by Congress are likely to result in savings passed on to Xcel Energy customers.

While other Fortune 500 companies passed on more money to shareholders, handed out bonuses and increased employee salaries in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Xcel Energy has fewer options of how it can spend its tax savings since its rates are regulated by Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission.

As such, Xcel can't very well keep hiking its rates at the same pace when it's known they're benefiting from a substantial tax cut from 35 to 21 percent.

That's why the PUC is currently investigating how the tax bill will affect electrical and natural gas services and the rates charged to Minnesotans.

In its latest filing with the PUC, Minnesota's largest utility offers three options of what to do with the $133 million it will save through its electricity and $8 million from its gas supply operations.

They are: 

1. Using it to accelerate the early retirement of some of its fossil-fuel burning plants and invest in meeting its renewable energy goals.

2. Extending its current 2016-19 electric plan that keeps rates low and predictable beyond 2019.

3. Using it to provide customer refunds for electricity they're already paying for.

Whatever it decides to do and what the PUC lets Xcel do, the company says: "We intend to ensure our customers receive the full value of the tax reform benefits."

The Star Tribune notes that Minnesota's largest gas provider, CenterPoint, plans to return any savings from the tax bill to customers.

Duluth-based Minnesota Power meanwhile says it's saving $23.6 million and while it agrees some of the savings should go to customers, it also has costs to cover.

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Xcel Energy approved to increase electricity prices 2.7 percent

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the rate increase, but it's actually less than half what the Minneapolis-based utility originally requested. The Star Tribune reports the average residential customer will get a $30 refund because they've already been paying a higher interim rate.