Xcel Energy implements interim rate increase
MINOT, N.D. – Your News Leader is following up on a story we investigated about a spike in Xcel energy bills for Minot customers.
Xcel Energy is asking state regulators to approve a $19.2 million increase or 9.3%. Some Minot Xcel customers told us they have seen a much higher increase on their bills than just $7 more than their average rates.
The 9.3% increase to Xcel energy’s rate would lead to an increase of roughly $7 to $8 per customer. But one Minot customer said the spike in his bill was more than that.
“Double, over double. Last year’s bill this time around same weather excluding the wind was $90,” said Collin Bedecs, a local resident and Xcel customer.
In a statement to Your News Leader, Xcel said in part:
“Our rate proposal to the North Dakota Public Service Commission includes investments to deliver a better product for our customers, including investments in core systems, such as power plants, and the power lines and poles that deliver energy to customers. That means we’re strengthening the energy grid and enhancing the reliability of the service our customers count on while keeping bills low.”
Those who say they’ve tried to be more energy-efficient have noticed more than the original spike.
“I unplug almost all my appliances during the day. Like coffee, microwave, lamps, fans etc. I keep them unplugged unless I am going to use them,” said Karen Smith, another local resident and Xcel customer.
The $7 to $8 increase per month alone would lead an additional $84 to $96 a year, and that’s not considering additional energy usage.
“I know people who are struggling far more than I am and I cannot imagine paying the amount I did last year the suddenly its double out of the blue,” said Bedecs.
Xcel energy did notify customers of the interim rate increase in their Jan. 1 energy bill.
The rate hike still needs to go before state regulators. If the Public Service Commission denies it, Xcel customers should see some type of refund for the initial rate increase. Your News Leader will follow the case and keep you up to date on any progress.
Here is the full statement from Xcel:
“At Xcel Energy, we work every day to provide the reliable energy that our customers depend on, delivering increasingly clean energy at an affordable price. Our rate proposal to the North Dakota Public Service Commission includes investments to deliver a better product for our customers, including investments in core systems, such as power plants, and the power lines and poles that deliver energy to customers. That means we’re strengthening the energy grid and enhancing the reliability of the service our customers count on while keeping bills low. In fact, in 2019, our average residential customers’ bills in North Dakota were 27% below the national average, and this is our first base rate increase in six years. Under our proposal, the average residential customer’s bill will remain well below the national average.
“We notified customers in January when interim rates began (Jan. 5) by including information on their bill that interim rates would begin. Customer bills this month include information about the correction in interim rates that was implemented April 1. We estimate an average customer who uses 750 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would see an increase of $5.77 per month.
“The North Dakota Public Service Commission conducted public input sessions on March 4th to hear from customers and members of the public about our full rate request. If the Commission’s final order on our proposal results in lower rates than what was collected in interim rates, we’ll refund money to customers, with interest, through a credit on their electric bill.
“There are a number of reasons a customer’s electric bill may go up by more than the interim rate impact mentioned above, with the most common being more electric usage, especially in winter months where people are spending more time at home and using more electricity. We are also seeing more residential electric usage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people have been working and going to school at home.
“If any of our customers are concerned about a higher than normal electric bill, we encourage them to contact our customer care department at 1-800-895-4999. We also want to hear from our customers if they’re having trouble paying their bills. We will always work with them to arrange payment plans that meet their circumstances.”
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