by Sophie Callahan
Sierra Club volunteers made a highly-visible appearance at the Xcel Rate Case Public Hearing on Monday, June 23rd at the Sabathani Center in Minneapolis.
Xcel Energy, the primary utility provider for much of Minnesota, is holding a series of public hearings this week around the areas in which they provide services. The hearing on June 23rd, overseen by Judge Jeanne Cochran, called upon Xcel customers to give their thoughts on Xcel’s proposed rate increase of 291 million dollars over two years. According to a Star Tribune article published on June 24th, Judge Cochran plans to hold a “trial-like evidentiary hearing” in August following the seven hearings taking place this week. By December, Judge Cochran plans to submit a recommendation based on the hearings regarding Xcel’s rates.
Outside the Sabathani center, hearing attendees were greeted by over a dozen sign-holding Sierra Club volunteers calling on Xcel to replace the Sherco 1 and 2 Coal Units with clean energy. The Sherco coal plant is Minnesota’s largest carbon polluter.
In addition to making their presence known through sign-holding and the chanting of such rhymes as “Hey-hey, h0-ho, Sherco coal has got to go!”, several members of the Sierra Club offered testimonies at the hearing itself. The testimonies emphasized the need for Xcel to transition to cleaner energy sources, opposed Xcel’s proposal to increase customer charges that disproportionately affect low income customers and discourage customers from conserving energy, and supported inclining block rate pricing.