Xcel Energy requests electric rate increaseNorthern States Power Company-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company, today asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve a base electric rate increase for 2011 and 2012,
Northern States Power Company-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company, today asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve a base electric rate increase for 2011 and 2012. The company provides electric service to 1.2 million customers in Minnesota.
“This case is needed to fund important infrastructure improvements, ensure compliance with increasing regulatory requirements, and respond to changes in the economy,” said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of NSP-Minnesota. “While we have worked to manage costs and increase our efficiency, we are not able to avoid this rate request. The increase will support our ability to provide our customers high quality, reliable electric service at a good value, both now and over the long term.”
The company requests an increase of approximately $150 million (5.6 percent) in base electric rates in 2011, and an additional $48 million (1.8 percent) in 2012, for a total of $198 million (7.4 percent) effective Jan. 1, 2012. The majority of the 2012 increase is necessary for expected costs in the coming year for the previously approved Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant power increase and life extension projects. “The request for 2012 will help delay a subsequent rate case as we will continue to make significant investments in our system, including the important projects at our Monticello nuclear plant,” said Poferl.
As part of this filing, Xcel Energy seeks implementation of interim rates effective Jan. 2, 2011. Under the company’s interim rate proposal, a typical residential customer’s monthly bill would increase by approximately 5.5 percent, or $4.09, based on use of 675 kilowatt-hours. A typical small business customer’s monthly bill would increase by approximately 5.4 percent, or $6, based on use of 1,035 kilowatt-hours.
Approximately half of the company’s 2011 request is related to costs associated with infrastructure investments, primarily at the utility’s two nuclear plants, but also investments to improve reliability of its transmission and distribution systems. Compliance with new regulatory measures, such as security, emissions controls and reliablity, account for more than 10 percent of the request. The large majority of remaining costs are due to various economic trends, such as reduced sales, higher health care costs, and a loss in value of the employee pension fund that requires the company to fund the plan for the first time since 1994.
In addition, Xcel Energy requests to modify customers’ bills by moving some costs now being recovered as separate surcharges into base rates. Since those costs are already included on customers’ bills, the move will result in no change in overall bills. This includes costs for the Metropolitan Emissions Reduction Program, which included upgrading or repowering three major Twin Cities-area coal plants, as well as construction costs for the Grand Meadow Wind Farm in southeastern Minnesota and Nobles Wind Farm in southwestern Minnesota.
Poferl emphasized that Xcel Energy is a national leader in efforts to help customers use energy more wisely, and she encouraged customers to take advantage of the company’s energy efficiency programs to save money and lower their energy bills.
Xcel Energy offers several free online resources available to customers to help them conserve electricity and reduce their energy bills. They include the Home Energy Analyzer, Energy Calculator, information about rebates and incentives, and the ENERGYsmart Library.
The Minnesota commission will hold public hearings in the spring of 2011. More information can be found online at www.xcelenergy.com/itsyourenergy. A copy of the rate case filing will be available on the commission’s website at www.puc.state.mn.us.