Xcel decreases proposed rate hike

Freedom New Mexico

Xcel Energy still plans to seek a rate increase, just not as much as orginally planned.

Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves Tuesday said the company plans to revise a request filed with the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission last December seeking a 6.2-percent rate increase.

Reeves said Xcel and customers groups have worked to negotiate a lower increase.

At a public hearing held Monday in Hobbs, PRC members listened to customer thoughts about increases and the services Xcel provides.

“The customers came in and spoke; this was part of the process,” Reeves said. “When we have these public meetings we get information anyway we can about what our customers think about our proposal. It definitely helps.”

Reeves said the revised request will likely be filed Wednesday, although he said he couldn’t provide any figures.

Reeves said an increase is needed to help pay costs associated with a new Hobbs Generating Station.

The old proposal would have increased the average residential bill of 750 kilowatt-hours per month by $8.79 per month.

Curry County Commission Chairman Frank Blackburn said he feels it is a bad time to increase anything because of the economy.

“It’s got to affect us all, whenever you increase the cost of your expenses,” Blackburn said. “For an irrigation well, that is a significant amount. A typical irrigation well will run between $1,200 to $1,500 a month. A 4-percent increase is a significant amount.”

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said the city hasn’t taken a stand on the increase.

“I went to that hearing (in Hobbs) and there was no dissension in the meeting,” Brumfield said. “I just know working with them from the economic development standpoint, they (Xcel) are really good community partners.”

Brumfield said whether Xcel gets the rate increase is up to the Public Regulatory Commission.

Reeves said an Associated Press story published Tuesday incorrectly stated Xcel was seeking an additional rate increase.

Reeves said part of the confusion was over an Xcel press release distributed last year stating the company was seeking a 5.1 percent rate increase.

Reeves said the December press release should have said Xcel was seeking a 6.2 percent rate increase — the same amount under discussion at Monday’s public hearing in Hobbs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report