You won’t hear anything about this from wind and solar special interest groups, but Xcel Energy customers will see their electricity prices increase by nearly five percent in 2020 to pay for more renewable energy, according to documents filed at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The increase will occur despite earlier reports that electricity rates would not go up this year.
According to the PUC filing, Xcel is seeking to increase your electricity prices by 4.736 percent in order to pay for an additional $101.8 million in spending on wind projects between 2019 and 2020, as you can see in the table below. This will cause the average family with Xcel Energy to pay about $52 more in 2020 than they did in 2018. As a result, these families would pay the highest electricity bills they have ever paid.
Unfortunately, this spending spree is just one small step in Xcel Energy’s goal to increase wind generation in Minnesota to 35 percent of the electricity produced by 2024, which will require billions of dollars in additional spending on wind facilities and transmission lines to reach.
Mitch Rolling wrote a great piece late last year about the impact of Xcel Energy’s proposed 15.7 percent rate increase to pay for an additional $466 million in spending, which would cause Xcel’s rates to be far above other Minnesota utilities, as you can see in the graph below.
This proposed 15.7 percent rate increase, which is currently on hold, would have increased the electric bill of the average family with Xcel Energy as their electricity by an average of $168 to $200 per year. Unfortunately, this substantial hike in electricity costs would look tiny in comparison to the additional $2 billion Xcel is planning on spending on wind in the near future.
Currently, the Next Generation Energy Act requires Xcel to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2025, but allowing Xcel to exceed this requirement will add additional costs to ratepayers that is not required in state statute. Thus, there is no statutory reason to keep approving new wind projects once Xcel has reached the renewable energy mandate.
If the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission allows Xcel to continue raising rates in pursuit of their plan to generate 35 percent of their electricity with wind by 2024, it will constitute a complete abdication of responsibility on behalf of the PUC commissioners and the Department of Commerce to do their job and protect ratepayers from utility companies like Xcel.
This article was originally published by Center of the American Experiment