XCEL customers to save on electric bills, as utility drops biomass

Jul 2, 2018

Public Service Commissioners Brian Kroshus (i), chairman Randy Christmann and Julie Fedorchak.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy’s North Dakota customers will see a small reduction in their electric bills.

Xcel has ended its agreement to buy power from two biomass facilities in Minnesota.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus (craw-shush) said the agreement the utility made to purchase power from biomass plants was made to help meet a Minnesota renewable fuel standard.

"The biomass agreements were also tied to Xcel being able to store nuclear waste on-site at the Prairie Island nuclear facility," Kroshus said. "Xcel could not move the waste to another facility, because Yucca Mountain (Nevada) was not going to be opened."

It isn’t a lot of money – about 90 cents per month savings for the average Xcel customer in North Dakota.

"It was a trade-off," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "It recognized that Minnesota environmental groups were actively trying to shut down those nuclear facilities. This allowed a compromise."

Commission chairman Randy Christmann said the cost to consumers for using these experimental projects is very high.

"It's an example of what happens when Legislators or regulators abandon the concept of 'long term low cost,'" Christmann said. "Instead, it ensares utility companies into social engineering or economic development schemes. The politicians get huge headlines, and consumers get huge electric bills."