Xcel energy | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Xcel energy

Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy officials say the utility is on track to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2030 – and completely eliminate them by the year 2050.

They briefed the North Dakota Public Service Commission about those plans.

Xcel will be phasing out of its coal generation, while it increases wind and solar power. But the plan includes keeping its two nuclear power plants – Monticello and Prairie Island – operational.

North Dakota Xcel Energy customers will shortly see a credit on their utility bills.

But how much that credit will be isn’t known.

The Public Service Commission approved Xcel’s plan to use the fuel cost rider on the bill.

"That's in order to pass on to customers the financial settlement from General Electric, related to a turbine failure at NSP's Sherco Three generator," said PSC Chairman Brian Kroshus.

The Sherco plant is in Becker, Minnesota.

The failure happened in 2011. Kroshus said it was due to a design flaw.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved a settlement agreement with Xcel Energy concerning the effect of the 2017 corporate tax cuts on North Dakota Xcel electric customers.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission will be holding a formal hearing on how Xcel Energy will be handling its savings from the recent federal tax cut.

Xcel proposes a $9.6 million refund to electric customers in North Dakota. That's the amount it won't have to pay in 2018. But Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said there’s more to Xcel’s plan.

"Xcel also proposed letting the company keep that amount in its rates for 2019 and 2020," Fedorchak said. "That's the piece we have talked a lot about."

Fedorchak said that's why the PSC decided on a formal hearing.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy has outlined what it will do with the money it saved from federal tax cuts.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission held an informal hearing on the settlement reached by the utility and the PSC advocacy staff.

Xcel is proposing to return the $9.7 million it saved in 2018 from the tax cuts, that affected the 2017 tax year, to customers, in a refund.

"The impact to the typical residential customer is going to be about $46," said Xcel Senior Regulatory Consultant Dave Sederquist. "That's well over half of a typical electric bill."

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.

Xcel Energy is proposing to use the money it will be saving because of the federal tax cut to clean up a site of a former manufactured gas plant in Fargo.

The plant operated from the early 1900s to 1960.

"Back in the day, coal used be manufactured into gas that was used to light streetlights and be distributed to homes and businesses, much like natural gas is today," said Xcel Senior Regulatory Consultant Dave Sederquist. "There are some residual materials left underground."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy’s North Dakota electric customers could be getting some money back, in the form of a one-time bill credit.

The reason: Xcel made too much money in 2017.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus said it's close to $3 million.

"It would equate to approximately $13.70 for the average customer," Kroshus said.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said this is the first time since she’s been a member of the PSC that there has been an "earnings refund."

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.

Dave Thompson

Xcel Energy has filed with the North Dakota Public Service Commission to collect an incentive payment for meeting reliability standards.

The incentive was part of a rate case several years ago. Xcel was having problems with power outages in the Fargo area. The incentive was added to that case, so if Xcel would reduce the number of outages, it would be eligible for the incentive. And the incentive would be between $250,000 and $1 million.

Under that rate case, if a customer experienced three or more outages in a year not due to weather, Xcel would pay $50.

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