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Comment period on Xcel’s Integrated Resource Plan again delayed

Published September 29, 2020

Minnesota law requires public utilities to periodically file an Integrated Resource Plan (“IRP”) with the Public Utilities Commission (the “Commission”). An IRP is a roadmap that public utilities use to analyze and model various strategies for meeting electricity demand over the next 15 year time horizon. The Commission last approved an Xcel IRP in 2015. In July 2019, Xcel filed a new IRP. However, when an initial round of comments revealed changed circumstances and issues not fully addressed in the 2019 filing, the Commission required Xcel to file a supplement to its 2019 IRP. After numerous delays, Xcel filed this supplement on June 30, 2020

Comments on the June 30 filing were initially due by October 30, 2020. However, on September 15, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (the “Department”) requested that this deadline be further extended. In its extension request, the Department noted it was unable to complete modeling of Xcel’s King, Monticello, Prairie Island units 1 and 2, and Sherco generating units before October 30th. The Commission approved the request. The new deadline for filing initial comments on Xcel’s IRP process is January 15, 2021, at 4:30 pm. The new deadline for filing reply comments is March 15, 2021, at 4:30 pm. 

On one hand, we are disappointed in the ongoing delay in finalizing Xcel’s latest IRP, as we believe too much time has passed since the Commission last approved an Xcel IRP in 2015. On the other hand, the delay provides additional opportunity for CUB and other organizations to engage stakeholders and consider how other dockets overlap with or influence Xcel’s IRP process. This is particularly true for the Economic Development docket, in which Xcel proposes $3 billion in investments to help spur Minnesota’s economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19. The delay also allows CUB more time to continue our work with partners and technical experts to engage in our own modeling. Running our own models helps us better understand and comment upon the consumer impact of Xcel’s resource planning, and to encourage tweaks to the IRP Supplement to keep rates as affordable and consumer-friendly as possible.

CUB has seen an unprecedented level of public interest in this Xcel IRP filing, and we have already engaged several community and advocacy groups to discuss it. We believe this robust, wide-ranging engagement in the IRP process is a good thing, and we encourage consumer groups to file their own comments on the IRP. You can submit an initial written comment (open until January 15, 2021) as follows:

  1. Online: Visit www.mn.gov/puc and click on the “comment” icon. You will be asked to include the docket number, which is 19-368.
  2. Email: Email your comments to consumer.puc@state.mn.us. Please make sure you include the Docket Number 19-368.
  3. U.S. Mail: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission 121 7th Place East, Suite 350 St. Paul, MN 55101.

Keep an eye on CUB’s blog for ongoing developments in Xcel’s IRP process. We look forward to continuing to engage with those interested in learning more about the consumer impacts of Xcel’s latest IRP.

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Author: Brian Edstrom

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