Xcel Energy Inc. (Xcel Energy) has entered into an agreement with Colorado utility regulators in addition to consumer groups and several business regarding a $112.2 million yearly hike in the company’s base rates, a decrease from the initially proposed $159 million hike. After hearings that commence on April 24, 2009, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will review the rates. An ultimate PUC ruling is likely to take place by summer 2009.

A PUC hearing on Xcel Energy’s proposal for a rate increase, which commenced on April 20, 2009, was delayed while the utility negotiated a settlement with groups that had opposed its request. The company initially filed its rate case in November 2008.

Xcel Energy stated that they have entered into a settlement agreement on rate hikes with six interveners, including the PUC staff, Colorado Energy Consumers, the Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel, Energy Outreach Colorado, Sam’s West Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and CF&I Steel LP.

The company said “The proposed settlement would increase electricity bills by 5.2 percent for typical residential customers, or by $2.94 to $59.17 a month, based on use of 625 kilowatt-hours. Small-business customers would see a 4.9 percent increase, or $4.42 to $94.33 a month, based on use of 1,025 kilowatt-hours.”

If authorized, the rates would come into effect on July 1, 2009.

Xcel Energy intends to file another rate hike appeal soon to cover the costs of enhancements to the utility’s power system. If endorsed, those rates are expected to go into effect in January 2010.