Lower Rate Increase 16 Nov 11

Xcel Energy has agreed to seek a considerably smaller two-year rate increase than what it originally requested, in part because the energy utility plans to delay planned upgrades to its Monticello nuclear plant.

Xcel reached an agreement with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and some of its large industrial users to request a rate increase of $58 million in 2011 and $14.8 million in 2012. That’s less than half of the $198 million the Minneapolis-based utility had initially sought.

The Chamber of Commerce and some large industrial users, including Verso Paper Corp., had objected to the rate increases. The settlement, which Xcel announced Monday, still needs to be reviewed by an administrative law judge and approved by the state Public Utilities Commission.

If the settlement becomes final, the average Xcel residential customer would see a 2.7 percent rate increase, according to Xcel. For an average monthly bill, the increase would be about $2.30.

A PUC decision is expected sometime next spring. If it’s approved, customers who were charged at a higher interim rate for 2011 would be refunded.