PUC to take public comment on Xcel Energy's proposed wildfire mitigation plan and cost recovery

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DENVER – A Public Utilities Commission (PUC) administrative law judge will conduct a remote public comment hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 28, on a request by Xcel Energy for approval of an updated wildfire mitigation plan and its associated cost recovery.

The public comment hearing will begin at 4 p.m. and last until concluded, but no later than 6 p.m. Individuals who wish to provide public comments during the hearing may do so either by telephone or computer. Detailed instructions on how to participate by phone or computer can be found in Section V of the decision scheduling the public comment hearing.

The proposal, which covers a five-year period from 2021-2025, generally accelerates risk mitigation actions related to inspection, repair and replacement of infrastructure, vegetation management, and increased distribution system protection measures.

Recent increases in severe weather events have impacted not only the frequency but also the intensity of wildfires in Colorado, which ranks near the top of all states in terms of properties exposed to significant wildfire risk, according to the company. Xcel describes its proposal as a proactive and prudent approach to wildfire mitigation that “can dramatically reduce the potential financial impact and physical damage associated with a large-scale wildfire ignited by utility infrastructure.

The proposal builds on programs approved in an unopposed partial settlement of wildfire mitigation issues that was part of the company’s 2019 electric rate case.

Xcel initially is seeking to recover an additional $17.2 million in 2021 through a Wildfire Mitigation customer charge. If approved by the PUC, the proposed rider would increase bills for typical residential customers by $0.49 a month (or 0.71 percent), based on average monthly usage. A typical small commercial customer’s bill would increase by an additional $0.71 a month (or 0.69 percent), based on average monthly usage.

After that, Xcel would file by Nov 15 of each year, beginning in 2021, an adjustment to the rider containing the projected costs for the following calendar year, along with a true-up of the previous year’s costs, effective Jan. 1 of each year. The total bill impact over the five-year period would be a 1.43 percent increase for residential customers and a 1.39 percent increase for small commercial customers.

Members of the public also may submit written comments about the proposal by using the PUC’s on-line comment form at https://puc.colorado.gov/puccomments under proceeding 20AL-0300E.

An evidentiary hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Jan. 14 and 19.


About the PUC

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) serves the public interest by effectively regulating utilities and facilities so that the people of Colorado receive safe, reliable, and reasonably-priced services consistent with the economic, environmental and social values of our state.

About DORA

The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit www.colorado.gov/dora for more information or call 303-894-7855/toll free 1-800-886-7675.

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