ILSR Video Parody Lampoons Xcel Energy’s Ask For “Blank Check” In Minnesota Legislature

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Originally published at

Advocacy Groups Release Video that Tells Truth Behind “Blank Check” Bill Xcel is Pushing at Capitol

Xcel’s Bill Guarantees Profit for Utility, Guts Power of Watchdog Agency Charged with Protecting Customers

In March, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Community Power released a video that tells Minnesotans the truth about the bill Xcel is attempting to jam through the Legislature. The video is being released ahead of the impending Senate Energy Committee hearing where members will vote on the bill Xcel drafted to give itself a blank check for upkeep costs of its Prairie Island nuclear plant.

The video parodies Xcel’s “red box” advertisement. In commercials, the box delivers things customers actually want — clean energy or energy savings — the ILSR video contrasts that with what’s offered in Xcel’s bill (HF 3708/SF 3504): a streamlined path for the monopoly electric utility to recover unknown costs associated with its nuclear power plant. Xcel currently estimates costs at one billion dollars.

“Xcel’s bill is particularly brazen in light of recent history,” said John Farrell, president of Minneapolis-based Community Power, “The last nuclear power plant retrofit Xcel oversaw in Minnesota cost double the utility’s initial estimates. Xcel’s mismanagement was so severe, state regulators required the company’s shareholders to cover part of the cost. Xcel’s bill makes sure that scenario never happens again–next time customers would be on the hook for the utility’s cost overruns.”

Xcel estimated that the cost of upkeep for its Monticello nuclear plant would be $320 million; costs skyrocketed to $748 million. An investigation by the Public Utilities Commission, the Commerce Department and the Attorney general found that Xcel’s “imprudent management” led to cost overruns.

“Xcel’s winning argument to customers is that you are going to pay more and not get anything different in return,” said Farrell.

For more information about Xcel’s power plant bill and where decisions will be made about it, visit

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In 2017, Xcel Energy had legislation that similarly sidestepped the consumer watchdog Public Utilities Commission for a new gas power plant, at a cost of $1 billion or more to customers. The company also threatened legal action for a similar parody video.

This post originally published at Follow the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on Twitter and Facebook and sign-up for ILSR’s newsletters.

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John Farrell

John directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (, and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at

John Farrell has 518 posts and counting. See all posts by John Farrell