November 1, 2021
Minnesota’s largest natural-gas providers — CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy — Monday asked regulators for a rate increase of about 6.5 %, in standard requests that this year would add to costs that are already soaring for other reasons.
Sharp increases in the commodity cost of gas are expected to boost bills during the heating seasons. And Minnesota gas consumers are being pummeled by monthly surcharges stemming from a huge gas cost run-up courtesy of a February storm.
“It’s difficult for people to see their energy costs go up any more then they already are,” said Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, an advocacy group for residential ratepayers.
With those energy burdens in mind — as well as a crowded docket before state utility regulators — Xcel offered a plan that would essentially postpone a rate hike for a year. CenterPoint has proposed a modified rate plan that would still raise costs but soften the hit.
CenterPoint, which has 884,000 Minnesota customers, filed for a rate increase with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that would raise its revenue from ratepayers by $67.1 million, a 6.5% increase. The proposal would add $4.05 to a typical customer’s monthly bill, CenterPoint said.
As rate cases take 18 months to adjudicate, CenterPoint has asked for interim rate increase of $51.8 million that would go into effect January 2022. The PUC typically grants interim rate hikes; if the final increase is lower than the interim increase, customers get refunds.
Xcel, which has 480,000 gas customers in Minnesota, filed for a rate increase of $35.6 million, or 6.6 %. That would increase the typical Xcel residential customer’s bill by $5.12 per month, the company said. Xcel’s interim rate request would raise bills by $3.95 in January 2022.
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