Xcel wants to raise your electricity costs by $222 per year to pay for more wind and solar

Yesterday, Xcel Energy announced it would be seeking a massive 21.2 percent price increase on electricity over the next three years, meaning Xcel residential electricity customers will pay an additional $222 per year, according to the utility filing at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

What’s driving up costs?

According to the utility filing, Xcel is increasing the cost of keeping the lights on to pay for more wind turbines, solar panels, transmissions lines and to increase the use of electricity for transportation and home heating.

However, when speaking to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Chris Clark, Xcel Energy’s President for Minnesota and the Dakota’s, said this was a “straightforward increase” and that the increase is “really focused on the poles and wires part of our business and making the necessary infrastructure investments.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Xcel’s filing at the PUC reads:

“The multi-year rate plan we propose builds on the success of the 2016-2019 MYRP and will allow the Company to continue providing leadership on a number of key initiatives,

(1) expanding our renewable energy portfolio and further transforming our generation fleet as we lead the clean energy transition;

(2) creating an advanced distribution grid to better serve our customers and enable
further transformation of our overall energy delivery system; and

(3) assisting in continued beneficial electrification.”

None of these costs are simply “poles and wires” upgrades needed to maintain the current electric grid. The fact that the Star Tribune did not hold Clark’s feet to the fire is deeply disappointing.

As American Experiment has pointed out many times before, Xcel Energy isn’t a private company; they are a government-approved monopoly. This means Xcel Energy customers have zero freedom to choose another electric company if they don’t like Xcel’s business practices. It also means Xcel doesn’t get to make a profit on the electricity they sell.

Instead, they are allowed to make a government-approved profit every time they spend money on new power plants and even corporate offices. The more Xcel spends, the more profit they make. This is why Xcel’s profits have increased dramatically as the company has spent billions of dollars on renewable energy.

Xcel’s proposed 20 percent increase in costs is simply the latest bill coming due.

Subsidizing someone’s electric vehicle

Not only will you be paying for more wind and solar with your higher electric bill, but you will also be paying for someone else’s electric vehicle. According to the Star Tribune:

In the new rate case, Xcel is asking for $6 million to $22 million annually for electric vehicle rebates originally proposed in mid-2020 as part of a COVID economic recovery package, a PUC filing said. That would partially fund a program that calls for rebates of $100 million for electrified public transportation and $50 million for cars and light trucks over 10 years.

If some Minnesotans want to drive electric cars, that’s their prerogative, but Xcel Energy customers should not be forced to subsidize their adoption through higher electric costs that disproportionately harm low-income families to help wealthy people buy a Tesla.

Where is the other side of the story?

Every time a story like this is written in the Star Tribune, there is never a quote from any organization that opposes the policies that are driving up electricity prices in the first place.

Instead, there is a quote from Annie Levenson-Falk of the Minnesota Citizen’s Utility Board (CUB), who makes a statement about how big the rate increase is. At least this time, she didn’t claim it was “really surprising.”

What makes Levenson-Falk’s feigned surprise utterly disingenuous is the fact that her organization is a leading proponent of increasing Minnesota’s reliance on wind and solar at the PUC, meaning they are advocating for the very policies that are driving up electricity costs for Minnesotan families.

Furthermore, interviewing utility companies like Xcel isn’t an opposing view, either, because Xcel stands to rake in a massive government-approved profit by building more wind turbines, solar panels, and transmission lines.

Europe is learning a hard lesson about the realities of bad energy choices, and in order to avoid these same mistakes, Minnesotans need to be presented with the best arguments for and against the energy policies being discussed.

Unfortunately, they are not getting this vital counterpoint. All they are getting is a $222 increase in their electric bill and an increasingly fragile electric grid.