PUC denies Xcel immediate rate hike

DENVER — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission rejected Xcel Energy’s request for a $100 million interim rate hike Wednesday.

The three-member commission said Xcel failed to demonstrate a financial need for an immediate rate increase. But the commission will still consider the company’s original request for a $142 million hike for a ruling later this year.

In its filings to the PUC, Xcel said it needed the money because of additional expenses it expects to have later this year, including its own decision to stop selling power to Black Hills Energy, which serves Pueblo and southeastern Colorado. Ending that contract cost Xcel about $42.4 million.

Opponents of the hike said consumers shouldn’t have to pay extra for Xcel’s poor business decisions.

Xcel had sought PUC approval for a temporary rate hike without public hearings while its larger increase is pending, citing a new state law that gave the commission the ability to approve such increases.

But the commission said that law also requires a utility to show it would be adversely impacted by a revenue deficiency until public hearings on a rate hike can take place. Such rate-increase requests can take up to six months to complete.

In its rejection, the commission said Xcel “did not adequately justify the need for interim rates, and did not demonstrate that the financial integrity of the company would be at-risk if the interim rates were not granted.”

Xcel officials did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The proposed rate increase would have increased monthly bills by nearly 6 percent for residential customers who use an average of 632 kilowatt-hours. Monthly bills for commercial customers averaging about 1,123 kilowatt-hours would have increased nearly 5 percent.


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