State regulators will hold a hearing Wednesday in La Crosse on Xcel Energy’s proposal to raise electricity and gas rates next year.
The Minnesota-based utility is seeking a 3.6 percent increase in electricity revenues for 2018 and a 10 percent hike for natural gas. If approved, that would translate into about $6 more per month on the average residential electric bill and $5.31 more for gas.
The Public Service Commission, which sets rates for investor-owned utilities, will hold a public hearing at 3 p.m. at the La Crosse Public Library. Public comments can also be submitted online.
PSC staff have recommended more modest increases of 1.6 percent for electricity and 8.2 percent for gas, but it will be up to the three-member commission to determine the rates, which are structured to give the company a return on its investments.
Xcel has requested to maintain its current 10 percent profit margin, while consumer advocates argue that 9 percent is more reasonable.
The company is also seeking to raise the flat fee for all account holders to $17 a month, which the Citizens Utility Board opposes on the grounds that it’s unfair to customers who use the least energy and that it discourages energy savings.
Last year the PSC authorized an increase from $8 to $14.
Xcel said the electric rate increase is necessary to support investments needed to maintain safe, reliable service when sales are flat or declining.
This is the 12th straight year Xcel has sought to increase electricity rates. The PSC has granted all but one request, giving the utility a little more than half of what it asked for.
The average month Xcel residential electric bill in 2017 was just over $100, according to PSC data. That’s lower than all but one of the state’s largest investor-owned utilities.