MINNEAPOLIS - Xcel Energy is planning a large rate hike request. How large? The utility will not say until it is filed with the Public Utilities Commission.
An Xcel request for a 10.7 percent increase for 2013 was whittled down to 3.8 percent by the PUC; however, the coming rate hike request will be different because of a change in state law.
"That is right," said Laura McCarten, Xcel Regional Vice President. "We will be the first one coming in under that new law."
The 2011 Legislature changed the law governing rate hike requests to allow the increases to be spread over more than one year. It is a technique called "rate smoothing" since it smoothes out an abrupt rate hike. The idea is to make the increase more palatable to customers by having two or more smaller rate hikes, instead of one big one.
"Well, our proposal will give our customers a predictable price," said McCarten. "As we continue the investments that we are making, it provides them with safe, reliable and clean energy which they have told us they need and they want. This is a proposal to be responsive to customers that way."
McCarten confirmed that Xcel will ask for a rate hike spread over two years, 2014 and 2015.
"It provides us the means to make investments into carbon-free energy to serve our customers, 20 more years of operation of our nuclear plants around the clock, wind investments that also save our customers money and investments into the electric grid," said McCarten.
Xcel intends to reveal its rate hike request in early November.
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