Xcel Holds Public Hearings for Rate Increase
Xcel Energy hosted the first of several public meetings about its proposed 10.7 percent rate increase.
Customers attended the first meeting at 1 p.m. Monday afternoon at the the Earle Brown Heritage Center. There is another meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Sabathani Center in Minneapolis.
Under the $285 million proposal, the average residential customer's monthly bill would increase by about 12 percent or $9. A typical small business owner would pay about $11 more a month and a large business would pay about $309 more a month.
Xcel says the increase will help "preserve and expand operations of its nuclear plants and electricity grid."
"Also investment into our electric grid to ensure that it's robust and reliable in providing good service to our customers now and into the future," said Xcel Energy Regional Vice President Laura McCarten.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce says Xcel "understated revenue and overstated costs." The Department concluded that $191 million or 67 percent of the proposal should be rejected.
The Office of the Attorney General called the requested increase "unprecedented at a time when ratepayers are already struggling to pay their bills."
Crystal Resident Dennis Laliberte attended Monday's meeting in Brooklyn Center. He has spent more than $17,000 installing an insulated garage door, triple pane windows and an energy efficient furnace.
"It's paying off, so when they come up with this, its just, a kick in the pants," Laliberte said.
"Everything you do, you take two steps forward to compensate for your bill and then you are going back four," Laliberte said.
The Public Utilities Commission is expected to make a decision by September. There is an overall 9.4 percent increase in the interim. If the final increase is less than that amount, customers will be refunded.
Throughout the rest of March there will be meetings in Woodbury, St. Paul, Mankato, Eden Prairie and St. Cloud. Comments can also be posted online here.