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CAP takes action in Minnesota, as Xcel attempts EV charging takeover

Charge Ahead Partnership is taking the fight for a level playing field in EV charging to Minnesota, where our members are working hard to prevent Xcel Energy from taking over the EV charging market. Throughout the fall, our team leveraged media coverage and arguments before the Public Utility Commission to help throw the brakes on one of the most aggressive EV charging rate-basing cases to date. 

Xcel Energy is the utility behind an attempt to seize control of the EV charging marketplace, as the power company included a request for $197 million in ratepayer funds to build 759 fast chargers throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in its latest rate case.

In early September, CAP filed comments objecting to the request and urged the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to not simply hand the EV charging marketplace to a monopoly.

While our team was raising questions about Xcel’s plan through the MPUC, CAP member and Minnesota fuel retailer Lonnie McQuirter made sure the public understood that Xcel’s proposal would mean higher power bills for everyone and no private market for EV charging in Minnesota. Lonnie’s opinion piece making that case was published in Minnesota’s largest newspaper, the Star Tribune, on Sept. 13.

Between CAP’s advocacy, Lonnie’s thoughtful argument and additional media coverage, we exposed the implications of Xcel’s strategy and how harmful it would be to both consumers and the EV charging marketplace at large. On Oct. 6, we provided public comment at a MPUC meeting to give input on the process regulators should undertake in reviewing Xcel’s request. Our team argued that the sheer magnitude of Xcel’s request necessitated far greater scrutiny.

The MPUC ultimately agreed with us and voted to consider Xcel’s EV charging request in a separate contested case proceeding that will go before an administrative law judge. This process ensures that the request will not be buried in a rate case, and utility executives will have to justify their specific attempt to monopolize the EV charging market by digging deep into the pockets of their captive ratepayers.

Politico declared that this decision by the Minnesota PUC had “thrown cold water” on Xcel’s plan, and suggested that the decision would reverberate nationally as other regulators consider whether to allow similar proposals from utilities.

While Xcel’s plans will now face greater scrutiny, the fight is far from over. The MPUC requested an order from the administrative law judge by July 1, 2023, and the regulators are expected to issue a final decision on the case around the same time frame. Stay tuned for future opportunities to engage on this case.