Xcel Energy proposes bill increase

Xcel Energy proposes bill increase

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Xcel Energy is proposing an increase to your energy bill.

The company says savings from lower fuel prices will help lessen the impact, but customers could see an increase of about 8.5 percent, or 9 dollars 56 cents per month. Xcel says this rate hike will help the company get back some of the more than $1 billion spent in 2014 on power lines, substations, and generating equipment.

The proposed increase would be the first in nearly a year. Instead, Xcel says two rate decreases in the same period has lowered the typical bill by nine dollars.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas will decide if the increase passes. If accepted, the changes will not take place until later in 2016.

The full release from Xcel Energy can be found below.

From Xcel Energy:

AMARILLO, Texas – Xcel Energy is seeking a base rate increase for Texas customers to support grid improvements that improve the reliability and affordability of the regional power grid, while paving the way for more diversity in the regional energy mix.

Today's proposal seeks an overall 8.5 percent increase for all customer classes for an annual increase of revenues of $71.9 million. But falling fuel costs over the past year will more than offset the overall impact to Texas rates. Impacts vary for customer classes, but bills for all classes combined are expected to be 7.6 percent lower than January 2015 bills.

From July 2014 through December 2015, Xcel Energy invested $1 billion in new and upgraded power lines, substations and generating plant improvements that have made the grid more resilient and have built in efficiencies that are partly responsible for a more than $9 decrease in typical residential bills over the past 12 months, said David Hudson, president of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company.

The proposed rate changes would bring a typical residential bill of 1,000 kilowatt-hours roughly back to the same level it was in February 2015 before fuel costs were decreased twice. Xcel Energy is proposing higher base rates that would increase a typical residential bill to $111.08 per month, a $9.56 increase from current bills but only 41 cents more per month than the January 2015 bill when more than $9 of monthly fuel cost savings are figured in.

"The investments we've made in the grid were made to support the region's growing economy, and have also made our system more efficient and more flexible," Hudson said. "We've also built in permanent cost savings by tapping into a more diverse power market that also includes additional low-cost wind-generated energy. While these investments come with higher up-front costs, customers enjoy the benefits long-term in the same way that a new, more efficient car saves us money on fuel and maintenance costs."

A great example of efficiency-driven savings, Hudson said, is the completion of two 345-kilovolt transmission lines to Woodward, Okla., a power hub within the Southwest Power Pool. These investments alone totaled almost $270 million, but are delivering about $60 million in energy savings each year by allowing the company to tap a wider power market where cheaper power is available.

The company also has brought on 750 additional megawatts of wind energy and will add 140 additional megawatts of solar energy capacity by the end of the year – all made possible by a more robust transmission network.

Even with higher base rates, Xcel Energy ranks as one of the best power deals in the U.S., consistently falling below regional and national electricity cost averages.

Customers also have a role in making energy usage more efficient and helping hold down costs by taking advantage of energy-efficiency programs and tips offered by Xcel Energy. These measures can reduce bills by as much as 10 percent or more. Information on energy efficiency tips and programs can be found at www.xcelenergy.com by clicking the residential and business energy solutions links.

\Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.5 million electricity customers and 2 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at www.xcelenergy.com.

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