The Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 21 said that an administrative law judge (ALJ) will conduct a remote public comment hearing on Oct. 28 on Xcel Energy’s request for approval of an updated wildfire mitigation plan and its associated cost recovery.
The proposal, covering a five-year period from 2021-2025, generally accelerates risk mitigation actions related to inspection, repair and replacement of infrastructure, vegetation management, as well as increased distribution system protection measures, the commission said.
Recent increases in severe weather events have impacted the frequency, as well as the intensity, of wildfires in the state, which ranks near the top of all states in terms of properties exposed to significant wildfire risk, according to Xcel, the commission said.
The company’s proposal builds on programs approved in an unopposed partial settlement of wildfire mitigation issues that was part of the company’s 2019 electric rate case, the commission said, adding that Xcel initially is seeking to recover an additional $17.2m in 2021 through a Wildfire Mitigation customer charge. The proposed rider, if approved by the commission, would increase bills for typical residential customers by 49 cents a month, or 0.71%, based on average monthly usage, while a typical small commercial customer’s bill would increase by an additional 71 cents a month, or 0.69%, based on average monthly usage, the commission said.
Xcel said that after that, it would file by Nov. 15 of each year, starting in 2021, an adjustment to the rider containing the projected costs for the following calendar year, along with a true-up of the previous year’s costs, effective Jan. 1 of each year. The commission added that the total bill impact over the five-year period would be a 1.43% increase for residential customers and a 1.39% increase for small commercial customers.
Detailed instructions on how to participate by phone or computer can be found in the decision scheduling the hearing, the commission said.
As noted in that decision, the time for a commission decision on the matter is to be extended for an additional 130 days, or until May 3, 2021.