Xcel Energy will use money it saves from federal tax cuts to clean up Fargo plant site

Nov 9, 2018

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

Xcel Energy will be allowed to use the savings from the federal tax cut bill to pay for the clean-up of a manufactured natural gas plant in Fargo.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has given its approval to that plan.

Xcel said the cost of the clean-up – which will take a number of years – closely mirrors that of the savings in federal taxes the company is realizing, after corporate tax rates were cut. The utility said using those savings will prevent any need for a rate increase.

"Because of the concurrent occurrence of the tax cut bill and the project itself, we can sort of pair them together and avoid having a special rate proceeding," said Xcel senior regulatory consultant David Sederquist. "In effect, we start paying off the project, and we don't impact any rates."

"I've been one, since the first minute I heard about the tax cuts, who has been promoting that those should go back to the customers," said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "I continue to believe that.  But in this case, sending them back to the customers and then raising rates shortly thereafter to pay for this manufactured gas plant remediation doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said the clean-up of the plant is a “cost of doing business.”