PUC could rule on Xcel rate hike request Thursday

  • Updated: August 6, 2013 - 8:41 PM

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) heard final arguments from Xcel Energy and other interests Tuesday over the utility’s request to increase rates for its 1.2 million electric customers in the state.

The commission, which sets rates for investor-owned utilities, is scheduled to deliberate and possibly decide the rate case on Thursday. The utility last November asked for a 10.7 percent rate increase but has twice pared it back.

Last month, an administrative judge recommended that Xcel get a 4.7 percent increase. Xcel said Tuesday that it accepts most of the judge’s findings, but asked for a higher return on equity and other changes, including permission to charge ratepayers for nuclear power plant investments.

Xcel said on Monday that its refurbished Monticello nuclear reactor has gone back on line. Xcel disclosed in the rate case that the cost of the five-year reactor upgrade had doubled. Originally budgeted at $320 million, the cost of the project grew to $655 million.

On Tuesday, the commission also heard from interests ranging from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which represents business, to the Energy CENTS Coalition, which advocates on behalf of low-income customers. In a sign of the wide range of issues, the PUC’s staff report summarizing the rate case ran 417 pages.

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