Xcel Energy seeks electricity rates hike to expand nuclear plants

US-based Xcel Energy has asked the state regulator to authorize an increase in base electricity rates as the firm plans to preserve and expand operations of its nuclear plants and electricity grid.

The $285m request submitted to Minnesota Public Utilities Commission represents a 10.7% hike in customer rates overall. As part of the filing, the company seeks implementation of interim rates effective 1 January.

Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota president and CEO Judy Poferl said the firm has been investing over $1bn annually to provide safe, reliable and clean electricity service as expected by its customers.

“This case is largely driven by these investments, which provide great value to our customers over the long term,” Poferl added.

“We sought and obtained approval to continue operation of our nuclear plants because they provide some of our lowest-cost, environmentally sound electricity.

“As a condition of that approval, we need to invest now in our nuclear plants to keep them operating safely and reliably over the next 20 years.”

Poferl pointed out in the filing that the company is also proposing ways to help encourage efficient business growth and jobs to benefit all customers over the long term.

Public hearings are expected to be held by the commission in spring, and a decision is expected in fall, with final rates effective in the first quarter of 2014.

Xcel Energy claims to provide products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers.