Great River Energy CEO: No rate increase for 2014

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 12, 2013 - 12:31 PM
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The $437 million Spiritwood Station plant will remain off-line until 2014, says its owner, Great River Energy.

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Great River Energy, Minnesota’s second-largest electricity supplier, said Wednesday that its power sales are up this year and its projected rate increase for 2014 will go down  -- to zero.

The Maple Grove-based wholesale power cooperative’s CEO David Saggau announced the news in a Tweet from the company’s annual meeting.

“After 5 years of flat/negative load growth, we are seeing a dramatic turnaround in 2013,” Saggau said via the company’s Twitter feed, @GREnergyNews.

The company, in its latest financial report, said electric revenue was up 10 percent in the quarter ending in March to $221 million, from $201 million in the period a year ago.

In another Tweet,  Saggau said, “We are continually working to lower our costs. I am pleased to announce that we estimate a 0% rate increase in 2014.”

That’s down from earlier rate predictions for 2014, which once ranged as high as 4 percent, but were projected to be 1 percent just last month when other Great River executives were interviewed by the Star Tribune.

In its first-quarter financial statement, Great River said energy sales by its 28 local cooperatives were up 6.5 percent in the quarter compared with a year ago. 

Great River Energy serves 645,000 customers spread from the Arrowhead region to the Iowa border, and is owned by local cooperatives.

The company recently has been criticized by two ethanol makers served by local cooperatives for its in escalating rates, which have gone up 58 percent over seven years.

“[Great River’s] highest-in-the-State of Minnesota electric rates have been … largely driven by significant, questionable, and in some cases wasteful, costs and projects,” attorney David Aafedt said in a recent filing with the state Public Utilities Commission.

But Saggau and other Great River executives have disputed that the utility’s rates are the highest in the state, saying they are lower than weighted regional average for power.
Saggau was not immediately available to comment.

@shafferStrib

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