Regulators urged to ‘throw out’ 60 percent of Xcel’s rate increase

It was not a good day for Xcel … unless 40 percent was its goal all along. Dave Shaffer of the Strib reports, “The state Commerce Department, which analyzes utility rates on behalf of consumers, wants regulators to throw out more than half of Xcel’s requested rate hike of $291 million — or 10.4 percent — over two years. ‘Our investigation to date has concluded that over $174 million or 60 percent of the … rate increase should be rejected,’ Samir Ouanes, a department rate analyst, said Monday.”

NBA draft day is approaching and the Kevin Love rumor mill is into red-line frenzy. At USA Today Sam Amick is saying a trade of Love to Golden State has collapsed. “According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Warriors aren’t keen on the idea of taking on the contract of veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin (three seasons, $21.2 million remaining) or giving up the future first-round pick that the Timberwolves are known to have asked for. … The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of negotiations.”

On the pedophilia beat … . Curtis Gilbert of MPR says, “The Catholic Diocese of Winona has released new information on 14 priests it considers credibly accused of sexually abusing children. Late last year, the diocese published the priests’ names on its website in response to a court order. Monday’s release contains additional information on those priests, including when the alleged abuse took place and when the church first learned of it.”

The AP has the latest spring planting info. “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the rain has left soil saturated and stressed crops. Wet fields also are hampering crop spraying and the first cutting of hay. The weekly crop report says only 1.1 days were suitable for fieldwork across Minnesota. Soil moisture took a big jump from the previous week. Topsoil moistures are now rated 58 percent surplus while subsoil moistures are 53 percent surplus.”

This’ll be tough on the doomsayers … . Stribber Adam Belz writes, “Companies in Minnesota that work for other businesses — such as accounting, legal, and architectural firms — are more confident about their prospects than they were a year ago. According to a survey of Minnesota professional services firms released Monday, 52 percent believe their revenue will grow over the next 12 months. That’s compared with 46 percent a year ago.”

Also in biz … . Total Wine’s Bloomington problems aren’t over yet. Says John Ewoldt in the Strib, “The wine superstore was set to debut in the Twin Cities suburb in December, just in time for the holiday season. However, the Maryland-based company has been held up in wrangling with the Bloomington City Council and objections from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, delays Total Wine says were brought on by competitors to slow down the company’s expansion into Minnesota.” This isn’t a plug, but it’s easy to see why competitors are worried. The selection is amazing.

The GleanSorry, you’re still guilty … . Richard Chin of the PiPress says, “The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the conviction of a former staff member of the state House who was found guilty of 12 counts of possessing child pornography. Rory Allen Koch was sentenced in Ramsey County District Court on April 22, 2013, to five years in prison after investigators found 68 images of child pornography on two computers in Koch’s apartment in the 1500 block of Grand Avenue in St. Paul.”

A non-tax related Medtronic story … . Greg Stohr at Bloomberg reports, “The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop a lawsuit against Medtronic Inc. (MDT) by a man who was rendered a paraplegic after surgeons implanted a system that infuses pain medication into the spine. The justices today left intact a federal appeals court decision letting the suit go forward. The suit accuses Medtronic of failing to tell federal regulators about previous problems with the SynchroMed EL pump and catheter.”

And … one that is … . Former CEO Bill George comes to his old company’s aid with a Strib commentary saying, “The litmus test for me is: Would I have done this deal if I were still CEO of Medtronic? My answer is an emphatic ‘yes.’ Credit [CEO Omar] Ishrak for having the courage to seize this golden opportunity to extend Medtronic’s mission and be a powerful voice in improving health care globally.”

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/24/2014 - 08:24 am.


    “…Credit [CEO Omar] Ishrak for having the courage to seize this golden opportunity to extend Medtronic’s mission and be a powerful voice in improving health care globally.”


    Improving health care globally, if it’s on the MedTronic agenda at all, is a secondary consideration. What Mr. Ishrak and Mr. George provide is yet another illustration of the ethical vacuum within which big corporations operate. Shareholders (and, you can bet, Mr. Ishrak personally) will benefit financially, while the rest of us suckers continue to pay taxes to support the vast infrastructure that makes MedTronic possible in the first place.

  2. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 06/24/2014 - 09:43 am.

    Maybe we can figure this out

    Let’s see, vote for a green-leaning politician, they make laws requiring power producers to lessen their carbon footprint. They can, but costs are huge. Must raise rates to pay for this. Voters are outraged their bills are rising.

    • Submitted by Marc Post on 06/24/2014 - 11:21 am.

      It’s more the nukes

      While new wind farms are a part, Xcel says the two aging nuke plants need big work. The following is a quote from a Strib article:

      The 2014-2015 rate hikes will be Xcel’s sixth and seventh increases since 2005, driven by a wave of capital investment in nuclear power plants, transmission and distribution lines and other projects including new wind farms.

      “It truly reflects an investment cycle,” said Xcel’s Minnesota CEO Dave Sparby, who compared it to the period of rapid investment in the 1960s and 1970s when the company’s two nuclear power plants were built in Minnesota. “At this point those [nuclear] investments are being repowered and refurbished. We cross through that investment peak in 2016.”

    • Submitted by Marc Post on 06/24/2014 - 11:29 am.

      11% was for Wind

      37% of the increase is for the nuke plants. 17% for transmission. 11% for wind and other projects.

  3. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 06/24/2014 - 09:48 am.

    “Litmus test for me”

    Does he benefit as a former CEO?

  4. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 06/24/2014 - 11:43 am.

    Bill George

    Is losing some of his otherwise deserved credibility. There are 2 aspects to this deal: the company they’re buying and the incorporation for tax purposes. If this deal is such a strategic fit, Medtronic could easily do the former without the latter. In the end, this deal as currently constructed is a tax dodge. Note that under the terms, Medtronic can back out of the deal if US tax treatment is altered.

    As stated in earlier comments in the last few days, Medtronic wants the benefits this country provides without the cost. Here’s a hypothetical. Suppose a Medtronic subsidiary in the country of Lower Whatever is nationalized. Do you think Medtronic will go running to the Irish government for help?

    Here’s a not so hypothetical. Do you think those Medtronic senior execs will move to Ireland where the personal tax rate is about 40% over approx $50k per year?

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