Xcel looks to zap fuel costs

Xcel Energy has submitted plans for a revised fuel cost formula that will lower residential bills of 1,000 kilowatt-hours by about 2 percent.

The plans were submitted to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) on Thursday. The new fuel cost formula and factor would reduce bills by $1.83, Xcel said in a news release.

"We're pleased to announce the reduction in the fuel cost factor, and that our joint efforts to oppose the Cross-State rule have helped contain expected increases in bills," said Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company. "Moving forward, investments in new, more efficient generating units and new transmission lines will help us keep downward pressure on fuel costs."

According to Xcel, the fuel factor is a pass-through charge recovers the cost of fuel by generation plans and energy purchased from other generators. It can be adjusted up to three times a year in Texas reflecting rising and falling costs along with fuel mix charges. A drop in prices of natural gas over the last year offset higher natural gas usage in its current fleet.

Xcel said another factor holding down the fuel costs is the delay of a federal emissions rule that was originally set to take effect on Jan. 1.

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