PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — When and where still need to be worked out. But the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission informally agreed Tuesday a public-input session should be held in Sioux Falls on proposed increases that Xcel Energy wants to charge South Dakota customers for electricity.
The commission has received dozens of emails from consumers complaining about the rate hikes and seeking a public hearing. State law requires the commission hold a public hearing if 25 or more customers request it.
“I think the citizens want to participate and have a say somehow,” commissioner Gary Hanson said.
The public-input meeting would provide Xcel with an opportunity to explain its reasons, according to Hanson, and give citizens the opportunity to get their views off their chests and ensure the commission is hearing them.
Chairman Chris Nelson agreed the commission needs to “go above and beyond to listen to folks.”
The third commissioner, Kristie Fiegen, seemed to prefer taking phone calls during the public-comment periods that the Legislature has required in recent years.
Xcel wants to charge a typical residential customer using 750 kWh per month an average monthly bill increase of about $19.58 per month or 19.75 percent.
The various proposed increases would affect about 97,500 customers, according to the commission.
Hanson, an Xcel customer who lives in Sioux Falls, said he can’t even straighten out the U.S. flag on his home’s front porch without hearing about the rate increase.
Nelson said commission staff would work on details for the public-input meeting. He noted the formal intervention deadline is September 16.
Intervenors formally become part of the official process, including being able to present witnesses, make arguments and face questions.
“If they want to, they can certainly file for that right,” Nelson said.