Energy bills could be going up for many of us who live in eastern South Dakota.
While the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has not approved the rate increase, state law allows Xcel Energy to raise the rates while the PUC considers the request.
South Dakotans in 36 communities could see their monthly bills go up 11.5 percent, or about $10 for the average customer.
The company requested the increase back in June. But because the state's Public Utilities Commission hasn't taken action on it, state law does allow Xcel to start charging the new rate until the PUC makes its decision.
If the PUC does not approve Xcel's request for 11.5 percent, or approves something less than that, Xcel will have to refund customers any over-charges with interest.
Situations like this are "fairly routine,” according to South Dakota’s PUC chairman Chris Nelson.
Nelson says last January, Xcel increased rates by 9.3 percent, but when the PUC approved just 5.1 percent of it, customers received refunds on their August or September bills.
No increases were seen in 2011.
Going back to January of 2010, Xcel requested a 10.7 percent rate increase. The state PUC approved 5.5 percent.
So, tallying the numbers for the past three years, Xcel Energy has requested a 20 percent increase from South Dakota customers. The South Dakota PUC approved only 10.6 percent of it.
Nelson tells KELOLAND News the interim rate is not a done deal for January bills. If the PUC would make a decision before the end of the year, and if the approved rate is anything less than 11.5 percent that new rate would be the one to go into effect in January.