Xcel Energy proposes increase in electric rates

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) -- Upgrading power plants and transmission lines are two reasons Xcel Energy is requesting an increase in electric rates.

Xcel energy is requesting a 3.2 increase in electric rates; they filed that request today, May 30th, with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. If passed, those changes will begin in December of 2015.

Xcel customer Michelle Hays isn’t too happy to hear about a potential price increase. Hays says, "I’m pretty surprised actually, and not excited about it. But, I think it's not worth switching services and you kind of have to just deal with it."

If the PSC approves their request an average customer would expect to pay $3.12 a month more than they currently pay. Regional Vice President of Xcel, Donald Reck, says the increased costs will help customers in the long run.

Reck says, "The investments we're making in renewable and carbon free resources will cost a little bit more in the short term but will position our customers well in the long term to avoid the cost of building more expensive resources in the future. "

Nearly half of the increases would go towards the utility’s investment in wind power and upgrading current plants. About 35% would go to higher costs for fuel and to buy power from other sources; the rest would go towards several electric transmission projects.

Reck says, "We're investing in the electric transmission system which is critical to ensuring reliable delivery of the power we receive in this area. This includes investments in the Eau Claire sub-station as well as investments in the transmission facilities in Northern Wisconsin and Lacrosse area . All of these investments help to provide more reliable electricity to our customers.”

Reck says over the past five years customer's bills have increased by 3-4% per year on average and that's primarily due to the increased cost of running the business as well as the higher cost of fuel.

Although, Reck does say there is still good news for customers. Reck says, "Xcel energy customer's bills in Wisconsin are approximately 9 dollars per month lower than the state average and about 6 dollars per month lower than the national average. So we're hoping to keep bills affordable as we go forward."

Reck also says there will likely be an announcement on Monday about stricter restrictions on carbon emissions and, while that's not why the company is making improvements, he says Xcel will be positioned well to meet those regulations.

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