Nearly 100,000 South Dakotans could face an electric bill increase in January
(The Center Square) – Xcel Energy, an energy provider in South Dakota, is asking the Public Utilities Commission for a 17.9% rate hike beginning next year.
The increase would affect most of its 99,000 customers living in the southeastern part of the state. Average residential electric customers would see an increase of $19.58 per month, the company said.
Xcel officials said during a presentation that it has historically kept customers’ bills lower than the national average. However, it projects the current average of close to $100 a month to go beyond $120 a month by 2023.
The increase would mean an additional $44.1 million annually for Xcel.
Residents questioned the need for a rate increase in light of the company’s $1 billion investment in wind technology during a public meeting held Monday.
“You’re asking 99,000 customers in South Dakota to subsidize the work that you’re going to do for this renewable energy,” said Dan Voss, an instructor at Southeast Technical College. “We have not seen a proof of concept of whether or not that’s going to be able to sustain what we need in the future.”
Xcel also cited costs related to decommissioning nuclear plants, upgrading technology and keeping up with cost pressures as a reason for the increase.
“I just get a little frustrated because I just feel like our country is going backwards,” said Sioux Falls resident Chris Avery. “We had better, reliable, cheaper electricity back 40, 50 years ago than we do now. And we’ve got more technology, we’ve got more resources, we’ve got more money, it just seems that we’re going backwards.”
Xcel Energy serves eight states, including South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Interim rates would begin in January but would be subject to a refund if the commission approves a lower rate increase.
South Dakota residents pay an average of 10.43 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the 2021 U.S. Electricity Profile released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration earlier this month. The national average is 11.10 cents.
Around 82% of the state’s total utility-scale electricity net generation was provided by renewable resources in 2021, according to the EIA. Wind comprised about 52% of the total generation, which is the second-largest share among the U.S. states. 2021 was the first year that wind surpassed hydroelectric power in South Dakota, according to the EIA.