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Xcel Energy to lower rate on April 1

From Xcel Energy

AMARILLO, Texas – Xcel Energy has gained approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to lower typical Texas residential bills of 1,000 kilowatt-hours by $3.53, or 3.7 percent, starting April 1.

The savings will be even more when summer rates take effect June 1. A typical residential bill of 1,000 kilowatt-hours will drop by $4.81 or 4.5 percent.

Xcel Energy originally sought a winter savings of $1.78 when the company filed for a new fuel-cost factor in January, but natural gas prices continued to fall, leading the company to revise its projected fuel costs downward.

The lower bills, even in the face of rising demand, are a result of cost decreases in natural gas used to fuel area power plants. Additionally, increasing demand for electricity is being partially offset by the efficiency of some natural gas generators.

"Our customers are benefiting from the lower cost of natural gas and from significant investments we have made, and are making, throughout our system," said Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company.

"These significant up-front investments are critical to hold down costs over time," Hill said. "Included are environmental controls, efficient power plants, an upgraded distribution system and new high-voltage transmission lines to tap additional supplies of low-cost power outside our area."

About 40 percent of the energy used by Xcel Energy customers in Texas is derived from natural gas-fueled power plants. In 2008, Xcel Energy began purchasing power from the Hobbs Generating Station near Hobbs, N.M., a plant that is 40 percent more efficient than older natural gas-fueled plants. Additionally, the company opened a new, efficient natural gas-fueled generating unit at its Jones Generating Station near Lubbock last year. A fourth unit is planned at Jones for 2013.

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