By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission today denied Xcel Energy’s request for an interim rate increase of $100 million.

Xcel had estimated that it would suffer at least a $50 million revenue gap if an interim electricity-rate increase was not approved by the commission.

The commission said Xcel failed to demonstrate that it would be adversely impacted by maintaining current rates during the six-month period while its request for a $141.9 million rate increase is fully reviewed.

“I view this in a simplistic fashion,” said chairman Joshua Epel. “There is one key term, ‘adverse.’ There has to be a true adverse impact. I don’t feel there is a demonstration of adverse impact.”

Karen Hyde, Xcel’s vice president of rates and regulatory affairs, said the interim hike was necessary.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed. We outlined what the negative impact would be as of Jan. 1, and we are sorry the commission didn’t recognize the adverse impact of the delay in rate relief,” said Hyde.

The commission is expected to issue its written ruling by Jan. 20, but the ruling is likely to come out sooner, said Terry Bote, spokesman for the commission.

A 2010 law passed by the legislature allows the PUC to consider interim rates if the utility shows it will be adversely affected by the revenue deficiency during the time period required to hold hearings on the suspended rates. Xcel Energy had asked that the interim rates be implemented by Jan. 21.

Consumer advocates, some of Colorado’s biggest companies, senior citizens and utility regulators opposed Xcel’s bid for the no-hearing, interim hike.

During Wednesday’s regular commissioner’s meeting, no one spoke on behalf of the interim increase or against it.

Commission staff briefly outlined Xcel’s position and the position of opponents. The consensus among those who opposed the interim hike was that Xcel failed to show how it would be hurt financially by waiting for a full rate-case hearing.

The PUC staff also opposed the interim rate request and challenged the $100 million figure, saying that no more than $52 million should be considered in the interim increase.

If comments are closed.

Comments are closed.