- Xcel Energy requested increases in electrical revenue that would add an additional $4.22 to customers' monthly bill, which includes a 2.4% overall increase and a 3.9% increase in natural gas revenues for 2017, the Lacrosse Tribune reports.
- This is the 12th straight year that Xcel Energy's Wisconsin arm requested a rate increase, and follows a request to increase the utility's fixed charge 75%, though Xcel also decreased the volumetric charge and balanced out the request, which was approved by utility regulators late last year.
- Xcel argued it needed an additional $17.4 million for infrastructure investments that include a $294 million wind farm, a $46 million transmission line upgrade and a $12.3 million upgrade to its Prairie Island nuclear facility.
Wisconsin utilities have recently attracted attention with pushes to increase fixed charges on customers across the board, pointing to diminishing revenues from increased use in distributed generation and energy efficiency as some of the culprits.
And some of those proposals met with resistence from the renewables community, which argued increasing fixed charges will hurt the nascent solar market. But for Xcel Wisconsin, requesting a rate increase has appeared to become a common annual occurrence.
Since 2006, Xcel has asked state regulators for on average an annual electricity revenue increase of $35.8 million for Wisconsin customers. And on average, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission grants Xcel just over half of of the requested rate increase, the news outlet reports.
Two power industry organizations, The Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin’s nonprofit ratepayer advocate, and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, are negotiating with Xcel to limit rate increases. But RENEW Wisconsin, which opposed Xcel's fixed charge increase in 2015, said they would not oppose this proposal since it includes investments in wind and solar energy.
A recent report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center said 61 utilities proposed fixed charge increases across 30 states in 2015, with the median increase requested was 62%. Regulators dismissed requested fixed charge increases in 16 of 37 decisions made on fixed charges, while the median approved charge for the others was less than half of the proposed request.