On March 27,* a bill will be heard that would effectively grant a blank check to Xcel Energy for spending on its two nuclear facilities, the Prairie Island and Monticello power plants — plus guaranteed profits for Xcel shareholders.
The bill (HF 3708 / SF 3504) bypasses the cost controls and checks on spending that exist to protect consumers of monopoly, for-profit utility companies. Under the current law, a utility must consider what investments are needed based on how much electricity is needed to supply Xcel customers, and compare the costs of nuclear power to other available options. Additionally, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reviews the utility’s spending to ensure that it was prudent. Alarmingly, this bill would allow nuclear costs to be considered in isolation, with no standard by which the PUC might disapprove proposed investment, and no check on how ratepayers’ money was spent.
Nuclear investments run in the billions of dollars. Xcel recently told the Star Tribune that they expect to spend a minimum of $1.4 billion more on these plants — but their last nuclear upgrade ran over budget by more than double. That high level of spending makes cost controls and consumer protections even more important.
This bill protects utility shareholders — allowing the company to collect profits on whatever level of spending it says is appropriate — at the expense of captive ratepayers.
Policy makers need to hear from you
- Please call. Contact Governor Dayton (651-201-3400) and the members of the Senate Energy and Utilities committee and ask them to not move forward with this bill.
- Attend the hearing. The hearing is open to the public, and I hope you will attend. The bill will be heard in the Senate Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee on Thursday, March 22 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 1150 of the Minnesota Senate Building (95 University Ave. W., St. Paul).
- Speak at the hearing. Anyone may request to speak. You do not need to be a utility expert; it is valuable for members of the public to tell Senators how they view the bill and how it could affect them. If you would like to speak, contact Committee Administrator Darrin Lee at 651-293-2962 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you contact policy makers and/or request to testify, please let me know (email@example.com). As always, I’m happy to try to answer any questions you might have.
* Hearing date updated after the initial hearing was canceled.
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