Xcel rate hike zapped by PUC

Faced with opposition from consumer advocates, businesses and its own staff over Xcel Energy’s proposed $100 million interim electric rate increase, it’s not a great surprise that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission rejected the interim rate hike Wednesday.

What is perplexing — and what didn’t help Xcel’s case for the hike — is the fact that the company asked for $100 million in the interim rate increase, but told the PUC it would suffer a $50 million revenue gap if the increase were rejected.

Several opponents of the increase, including the PUC staff, argued the increase requested was simply too high, and was not justified, according to The Denver Post.

An interim increase may be requested, and no PUC hearing is required, while the lengthier process for a permanent rate increase is under way, and that’s exactly what’s going on with Xcel now.

The PUC is considering the company’s request for $142 million rate hike that would cost average electric customers about $4 more per month. The review process for that rate increase could take up to seven months.

It’s likely some portion of that rate increase will be approved. Xcel has legitimate arguments about increased costs it must absorb for things like upgrading old power lines and closing old coal-fired power plants like the one at Cameo, as required under state legislation passed in 2010.

But Xcel evidently failed to make an adequate case for the interim rate increase, and so the increase was rejected.


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