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XEL > SEC Filings for XEL > Form 8-K on 3-Jul-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for XCEL ENERGY INC

Form 8-K for XCEL ENERGY INC


3-Jul-2014

Other Events


Item 8.01. Other Events

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has initiated an investigation to determine whether the costs in excess of the $320 million included in the certificate of need (CON) for Northern States Power Company Minnesota's (NSP-Minnesota) a Minnesota corporation, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc., Monticello life cycle management (LCM)/extended power uprate (EPU) project costs project were prudent. The final costs for the Monticello LCM/EPU project were approximately $665 million.

In October 2013, NSP-Minnesota filed a report to further support the change and prudence of the incurred costs. The filing indicated the increase in costs was primarily attributable to three factors: (1) the original estimate was based on a high level conceptual design and the project scope increased as the actual conditions of the plant were incorporated into the design; (2) implementation difficulties, including the amount of work that occurred in confined and radioactive or electrically sensitive spaces and NSP-Minnesota's and its vendors' ability to attract and retain experienced workers; and (3) additional Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing related requests over the five-plus year application process. NSP-Minnesota has provided information that the cost deviation is in line with similar upgrade projects undertaken by other utilities and the project remains economically beneficial to customers. NSP-Minnesota has received all necessary licenses from the NRC for the Monticello EPU, and has begun the process to comply with the license requirements for higher power levels, subject to NRC oversight and review.

At the direction of the MPUC, the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) has retained a consultant to assist in their review. The consultant, Global Energy and Water Consulting, LLC is covering the cost split between LCM and EPU; reasons for the cost increases; project management and oversight; and the prudence of scope changes among others. The results and any recommendations from the conclusion of this prudence proceeding are expected to be considered by the MPUC in NSP-Minnesota's 2014 Minnesota electric rate case.

On July 2, 2014, the DOC filed its report in this proceeding. The DOC supplied testimony prepared by the independent consultants hired to audit the project and two DOC witnesses sponsoring the overall recommendations. The DOC recommends a disallowance of recovery of approximately $71.5 million, consisting of $63 million of plant and the remainder, the associated allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC) on a Minnesota jurisdictional basis. This equates to a total NSP-Minnesota amount of approximately $94 million. NSP-Minnesota sought a finding of prudence for its entire $665 million in project costs as well as associated AFUDC.

The DOC's recommendation is based on findings that although the combined EPU/LCM project is cost effective, NSP-Minnesota should have done a better job of estimating initial project costs of the investments required to achieve 71 MW of additional capacity (i.e., EPU costs) as opposed to investments required to extend the life of the plant. They asserted that approximately 85 percent of the total $665 million in costs were associated with project components required solely to achieve the EPU.

The DOC concluded that had management more thoroughly developed initial cost estimates and attributed them appropriately, it would have determined that it would not have been cost-effective to move forward to attain the additional output. The disallowance is based on an analysis of the costs that were not deemed cost-effective based on what they believe NSP-Minnesota should have known about the EPU costs as well as the market conditions that existed in 2008.

The consultant's testimony is also critical of: the lack of a clearly identified scope; the effectiveness of contractor management; and the level of cost monitoring of project components during the construction.

The next steps in the procedural schedule are expected to be as follows:

Rebuttal Testimony - Aug. 26, 2014;

Surrebuttal Testimony - Sept. 19, 2014;

Hearing - Sept. 25 - 30, 2014;

Reply Brief - Nov. 21, 2014; and

ALJ Report - Dec. 31, 2014.

A final MPUC decision is anticipated in the first quarter of 2015.


Except for the historical statements contained in this 8-K, the matters discussed herein, including the expected impact of rate cases, are forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Such forward-looking statements are intended to be identified in this document by the words "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "objective," "outlook," "plan," "project," "possible," "potential," "should" and similar expressions. Actual results may vary materially. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update them to reflect changes that occur after that date. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to: general economic conditions, including inflation rates, monetary fluctuations and their impact on capital expenditures and the ability of Xcel Energy Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively, Xcel Energy) to obtain financing on favorable terms; business conditions in the energy industry; including the risk of a slow down in the U.S. economy or delay in growth recovery; trade, fiscal, taxation and environmental policies in areas where Xcel Energy Inc. and NSP-Minnesota have a financial interest; customer business conditions; actions of credit rating agencies; competitive factors including the extent and timing of the entry of additional competition in the markets served by Xcel Energy Inc. and its subsidiaries; unusual weather; effects of geopolitical events, including war and acts of terrorism; state, federal and foreign legislative and regulatory initiatives that affect cost and investment recovery, have an impact on rates or have an impact on asset operation or ownership or impose environmental compliance conditions; structures that affect the speed and degree to which competition enters the electric and natural gas markets; costs and other effects of legal and administrative proceedings, settlements, investigations and claims; actions by regulatory bodies impacting our nuclear operations, including those affecting costs, operations or the approval of requests pending before the NRC; financial or regulatory accounting policies imposed by regulatory bodies; availability of cost of capital; employee work force factors; and the other risk factors listed from time to time by Xcel Energy Inc. and NSP-Minnesota in reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Risk Factors in Item 1A and Exhibit 99.01 of Xcel Energy Inc.'s and NSP-Minnesota's Annual Reports on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013 and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2014.


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