Xcel Energy is asking certain natural gas customers, in three states, to turn down their heat. The request comes after a natural gas pipeline exploded in Canada Saturday morning.
This month’s up-and-down temperatures have ice on roofs pouring down into Minnesota homes. Experts say ice dams are worse this winter than they’ve been in years. Randy Schmit with the Ice Dam Removal Guys says it’s almost as bad as three years ago, when it was “horrendous.”
Being warm and comfortable in your home this winter could come with a higher price. Greater energy usage translates to bigger bills. Xcel Energy customers used about 29 percent more natural gas this past December than in December 2012. Customers used about 19 percent more natural gas than expected for December.
Xcel Energy is asking 600 business customers in Minnesota and North Dakota to reduce their natural gas usage because of higher demand from the cold. The Minneapolis-based company says the customers are those who take part in interruptible gas rates programs.
Power has been restored to thousands of residents in south Minneapolis who lost service over the weekend. With temperatures below zero degrees, crews are racing to restore service to those who are still in the dark.
The average high temperature for December’s first two weeks was a mere 17 degrees, making it the sixth coldest December on record.
For the sixth time in the last eight years, Xcel Energy customers will be paying more for their monthly electricity. On Thursday, the Minnesota Public Service Commission approved the company’s interim rate request, which will increase the cost of electricity by 4.6 percent beginning Jan. 3, 2014.
Environmentalists hope to nudge regulators toward taking a harder look at the future of Minnesota’s largest coal-fired power plant. The Public Utilities Commission will hear arguments Thursday about Xcel Energy’s long-term planning process for its future power needs.
City officials want residents and businesses to know of a scam targeting Xcel Energy customers. The scammers impersonate Xcel Energy employees and tell victims that they are late on a payment and that they need to make one immediately. And if the victims refuse to do so, the scammers say they’ll shut off their power.
Every year, the average American family spends more than $100 on energy costs to power appliances that have been turned off. These “vampire appliances” – like televisions, cable boxes, DVD players, etc. – continue to use power once we turn off the power switch. According to the Department of Energy, this vampire power accounts for 4 to 5 percent of the energy use in a home. As is the case with almost all appliances, when we turn something “off,” it’s still usually “on” in standby mode.
Xcel Energy is seeking permission to raise Minnesota electricity rates by 4.6 percent next year and 5.6 percent the year after. The increase would bring in about $291 million. The utility’s 1.2 million customers would face an average increase of a bit more than $10 a month.
An apparent gas leak Friday morning at East Ridge High School in Woodbury has canceled classes, according to the school district. At about 11:25 a.m., the school district said the high school was evacuated due to a natural gas odor permeating the building. Students were evacuated to nearby Bielenberg Sports Complex, or to Five Oaks Church.
Minnesotans who have trouble paying their energy bills will be protected from the cold again soon. Xcel Energy said the Cold Weather Rule will go into place starting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, and will remain in effect until April 15.
The Department of Energy released its winter fuel outlook and found homeowners with natural gas can expect increases in their heating bills of up to 13 percent.
It’s a source of pride for many Minnesotans – the number of Fortune 500 companies that call Minnesota home. “We live in an amazing state, so I thought a big percentage were here,” said Diane Anderson, of Minneapolis.