Minn. officials urge cut in Xcel rate request 04 Mar 13

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota officials are urging regulators to slash Xcel Energy’s proposed rate increase for electric customers in the state.

Officials say Xcel’s proposed 10.7 percent increase is creating “rate shock” among customers. Instead, the state Commerce Department is recommending a smaller rate hike of about 3 percent to 4 percent.

The department analyzes utility finances on behalf of ratepayers. It says Xcel’s request for a $285 million rate hike should be reduced by more than $191 million, or two-thirds.

Even with a smaller rate hike, the department says the Minneapolis-based utility will be financially strong enough to offer safe, reliable service.

Xcel officials tell the Star Tribune they will carefully study the state’s objections during the regulatory review now underway.