House panel passes nuclear costs bill backed by Xcel

April 20, 2018 GMT

Legislation that would alter Minnesotas regulatory process for nuclear power plant investments favored by Xcel Energy but opposed by both business and consumer groups moved forward Friday.

The House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee voted 11-8 to pass the measure. The vote crossed party lines, with Republicans and DFL members both voting for and against.

Xcel has said the legislation is needed to give it more certainty in recovering at least $1.4 billion in repairs and maintenance at its nuclear plants near Monticello and Red Wing over the next 17 years.

Opponents argue the legislation would shift financial risk from the company to ratepayers and weaken the decisionmaking power of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

The legislation would allow Xcel to get upfront approval from the PUC for the costs of major improvements at the nuclear plants. Now, the PUC determines what costs Xcel can recover from rate payers after the investments are made.

Similar legislation has passed a Senate committee, and the bills are expected to go to the floors of both chambers. Gov. Mark Dayton has threatened to veto legislation that he thinks takes power from the PUC.

Mike Hughlett 612-673-7003