Xcel Energy's latest rate increase approved by regulators

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Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a temporary rate increase for Xcel Energy Thursday.

The Star Tribune reports the 4.6 percent interim hike takes effect next month and is the sixth increase in eight years for Xcel. Thursday's approval means the interim hike will be in place while Xcel's request for a permanent increase winds through a yearlong regulatory process, the Star Tribune says.

The newspaper says lawyers representing the state and Twin Cities suburbs unsuccessfully urged the Commission to reject the increase or scale it back. For a residential customer using the average amount of kilowatt hours, it translates into a $4 monthly increase, bringing the average bill to $84.39.

Xcel Energy recently finished upgrades to it nuclear power plant in Monticello that wound up costing $665 million, which more than doubled its original estimates. The Public Utilities Commission is investigating the cost overruns and Xcel filed documents in October defending its handling of the Monticello project.

This week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed off on Xcel's request to boost the energy output at the plant by 12 percent, the St. Cloud Times reported. Xcel says the production increase at Monticello will occur gradually.

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