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LETTER: Deny Xcel Energy's rate increase

To The Editor:

In 2013, the PUC awarded Xcel Energy a 9.06 percent increase in electrical rates charged to South Dakotans. Now, a year later, Xcel is requesting an additional 8 percent increase. In a two-year span, if they approve this latest request, this amounts to a 17 percent increase; nearly 4.5 times more than inflation over that same period.

During 2013, Xcel Energy posted a profit of larger than 5 percent in each of the four yearly quarters and a high of nearly 13 percent in the third quarter. This company is profitable and continues to be so. It is time that Xcel Energy invest some of their own profits into improving their infrastructure and not requiring the customers they serve to pay dramatically higher rates every year, while they generate millions in profit and pay additional millions to their stockholders.

What's more, perhaps the millions they paid for a private jet for their CEO could have been more prudently spent in updating their infrastructure; the purpose Xcel Energy argues necessitates this proposed rate increase.

Energy is not entertainment. The electric bill is not something families can cut back on or do without. Last year we paid 9.06 percent more due to the rate approval given to Xcel Energy.  This increase hurt those who can afford it least; families at or below the poverty line and seniors on fixed incomes. It also stings middle class families with children who can ill afford a 17 percent increase over a two-year period in their electric costs. Any money that a family uses to cover increases in electrical costs directly hurts South Dakota communities as those families have less money to spend within those communities. Less disposable income, caused by electrical rate hikes, harms South Dakota communities. Allowing another increase, just a year removed from a rate increase of 9.06 percent, is excessive at the least, and offensive at worst.

These two hikes together, cumulatively, will substantially affect most South Dakota families in an economically disparaging manner. The South Dakota PUC should deny Xcel Energy's rate increase request.