The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is taking public comment on a proposal by Xcel Energy to increase its electric rates by a net $108.3 million – down from an initial request of $158.3 million in May.

Public comment hearings will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 250, Denver.

The company’s proposal, revised earlier in October, would increase monthly bills for residential customers by about $3.07 a month on an annual basis, or about 4.8 percent, according to a press release.

Monthly bills for small commercial customers would rise by $4.87, or about 5 percent.

A main driver of the proposed rate increase, according to Xcel, is $4.1 billion of investment that the company has made in the last five years, including investments in next-generation technology to strengthen and improve the resiliency of the electric grid.

Additional components of the proposal include accelerating wildfire safety, prevention and mitigation efforts and upgrading infrastructure to reduce the risk of damage due to wildfires; and an initiative to help communities and businesses achieve their sustainability goals through better tracking of their use of renewable energy.

Xcel is seeking a 10.35 percent return on equity (ROE), up from the current 9.83 percent. The ROE is the profit that a utility is authorized to earn on its investments. The PUC sets a maximum ROE, but it is not guaranteed.

An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4-8 and 12-15 at the PUC. New rates will take effect in early 2020.

Members of the public may submit written comments about the proposal by using the PUC’s online comment form, marking proceeding number 19AL-0268E.

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