Last week, NFIB Minnesota filed initial objections to Xcel Energy’s $400 million electric vehicle (EV) “infrastructure” proposal. Xcel’s proposal would force customers – including all small businesses in Xcel’s service area – to pay higher electric bills for EV subsidies.
Xcel is seeking approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to build, own and operate its own network of nearly ~750 EV “fast chargers,” as well as subsidize privately owned charging stations and purchase electric school buses.
The first step in evaluating Xcel’s spending proposal is for the MPUC to decide how to evaluate it – whether it should be considered as part of a larger general “rate case” (in which Xcel has already proposed $677 million in new spending over 3 years) or a separate proceeding with heightened scrutiny.
NFIB MN expressed strong objections to Xcel’s proposal and believes the MPUC should use a separate, rigorous process to review and reject Xcel’s proposal. Read our initial comments here: XCel Energy comments
NFIB MN members overwhelmingly oppose paying more on their electric bills to subsidize EV charging stations or EV purchase rebates. In a member survey earlier this year, over 94% of NFIB MN members opposed EV subsidies like those proposed by Xcel Energy.
The staggering price tag of Xcel’s EV plan will only add to the exorbitant electric rate increases borne by Xcel customers in the past 15 years. From 2008 – 20202, Xcel commercial and residential customer rates increased by 33% (national average: 3% and 17%, respectively). Over the same period, Xcel industrial customer rates increased by 26% (national average: -2.5%).
In addition, Xcel’s proposal raises serious public policy concerns for small business:
- Xcel is a government regulated, investor-owned monopoly that, in recent years, has increasingly sought to expand into competitive lines of business under the guise of advancing “green energy.” As a regulated monopoly, Xcel recovers the cost of any project approved by the MPUC – an enormous advantage over any other private business in a competitive market.
- Xcel’s proposal creates an absurd scenario where mom and pop stores – some of which may want to install their own EV chargers – subsidize the expansion of a larger, publicly-owned business. Xcel shareholders would reap financial gain while Xcel customers are not guaranteed any benefit.
- Xcel’s proposal ignores low consumer demand for EVs, current EV battery technology limitations, and future technological advances that could leave Xcel customers footing a $400 million bill for an obsolete system.
Fundamentally, small business shouldn’t be forced to subsidize large companies through higher electric bills (or any other government mechanism). Main Street is being asked to pay for an electric car charging network that primarily benefits a small slice of car owners, large multinational car manufacturers and a investor-owned electric utility. It’s terrible public policy.
Moreover, Xcel’s spending plan mirrors failed legislative proposals from recent years. The question of whether a regulated electric utility should be allowed to use the advantage of its monopoly status to enter a competitive market should be decided – and rejected – by the Legislature.
If Xcel wants to get into the EV charging business or EV subsidy business, it can create an unregulated subsidiary where its shareholders – not its customers – carry the risk of its investments.
NFIB MN was joined by many other business groups and individual businesses in raising concerns with Xcel’s spending plan.
We will keep you up to date on Xcel’s proposal and aware of any additional opportunities to provide comments to the MPUC.