Xcel Energy has announced that base energy rates for its customers will remain unchanged this year despite expectations to the contrary.

In a press release, the company said customers could have seen an average base rate increase of $15 per month on future bills in order for Xcel to recover the costs of new power grid investments.

In the release, Xcel Energy president David Hudson said that in 2017 the company saw a need for more than $55 million dollars in additional revenue, but that was before the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed in November, which cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Xcel says that a new settlement filed with regulators on Friday contains no base rate increases for its customers in 2018, thanks to money saved by lower taxes and lower costs on long-term debt. Read the full press release below:

AMARILLO, Texas (July 2, 2018) – The effect of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and lower debt costs will keep Xcel Energy base energy rates unchanged this year, good news for customers who already are enjoying lower costs related to falling prices for fuel used in area power plants.

“When we filed for new rates in 2017, we anticipated the need for $55 million in additional revenue to recover the costs of new power grid investments,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – Texas. “The significant reduction in federal corporate tax expense, coupled with lower costs on our long-term debt, will enable us to absorb the cost of new infrastructure without raising base electric rates.”

In the August 2017 filing with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Xcel Energy sought base rate increases that could have increased a typical residential bill by $15 a month. Xcel Energy worked with key customer groups to bring down the proposed increase, and in a settlement filed Friday with regulators, now proposes no increase to base rates. A transmission cost recovery factor, a separate line item added to Texas bills in March 2017 to recover costs of new high-voltage transmission lines, will remain on customer bills under the terms of the settlement.

Since the August base rate filing, the costs for natural gas used to fuel close to 40 percent of the region’s electricity supply have fallen considerably. Fuel costs make up about a third of a typical residential bill, and a May 1 reduction in the fuel cost factor lowered residential bills by close to 6 percent. Hudson said fuel costs should hold steady through the remainder of the year.

The fuel cost reductions have already been approved, but the Public Utility Commission of Texas will still need to consider the base rate settlement filed last week and issue a final order.

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