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Smaller rate increases recommended for Xcel Energy

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources (DER) recommended the reduction of more than $191 million of the $285 million rate increase proposed by Xcel Energy for electric service in 2013, a reduction of 67 percent overall.

Xcel provides electric service to more than 1.2 million customers largely in the Twin Cities and the southern half of Minnesota. DER concluded that the recommended reductions of 67 percent will be sufficient for Xcel to provide safe, reliable service by making needed improvements to distribution, transmission and generation facilities.

"Our staff reviewed an extensive list of variables to calculate the appropriate cost for Minnesota consumers to ensure reliable electricity at reasonable rates," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.

DER recommended reductions in costs for items including cost of capital, costs related to employee benefits, income taxes, insurance costs, cost allocations, investor relations, charitable foundation contributions, and numerous other costs.

Additionally, DER concludes that Xcel's revenues will be higher, diminishing the need to increase rates, and that Xcel's proposal to increase rates due to customers' efforts to conserve energy should not be approved.

After written testimony, public hearings and evidentiary hearings are completed, Administrative Law Judge Jeanne M. Cochrane will present her recommendations to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The commission is expected to decide this matter before September.

Public hearings will be held in March in various locations:

Friday, March 8, 1 p.m., St. Paul.

Monday, March 18, 7 p.m., Mankato.

Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m., Eden Prairie.

Friday, March 22, 1 p.m., St. Cloud.

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