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Xcel Energy reports huge jump in Q1 profits

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Thanks to colder winter temperatures than last year and rate hikes in five of the eight states it serves, Xcel Energy's profits jumped 26 percent per share in the first quarter, the Star Tribune reports.

The Minneapolis-based electric and gas utility Thursday reported earnings of $237 million -- or 48 cents per share -- for January-March 2013, up from $184 million -- or 38 cents per share -- from the same period in 2012.

Of the earnings, the company said $75 million came from the rate hikes in natural gas prices in Colorado, South Dakota and Wisconsin, and interim rate hikes in Minnesota and North Dakota, which are subject to refund. Xcel also serves customers in Texas, New Mexico and Michigan.

Xcel came under fire last November when it asked state regulators for 10.7 rate hike. The company eventually trimmed the request to a 8.2 percent increase, which the Minnesota Commerce Department still deemed too high.

The company noted Thursday that the sharp jump in profits was due to the unusually warm temperatures in Q1 of 2012 in contrast to the unusually cold temperatures of of Q1 in 2013.

Xcel said its gains, however, were partly offset by higher operating and maintenance expenses, depreciation and property taxes, the Star Tribune reports.

The company said its first-quarter revenues were $2.78 billion, up 8 percent over the same period in 2012.

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