Xcel Energy is asking state regulators to increase its electric rates by a total of $198 million in 2011 and 2012.
The Minneapolis utility wants to raise rates for electricity by 5.6 percent next year, or $150 million, and 1.8 percent in 2012, or $48 million.
The proposed rate hike is mainly to pay for upgrades at Xcel's nuclear power plants, at Monticello and Prairie Island. Xcel Vice President Scott Wilensky says boosting power and continuing to operate the plants is a good deal for customers.
"We're able to extend those lives for 20 years with a fairly significant but much less costly investment program than it would be to take 17-hundred megawatts of generation of any other form and put it onto our system."
The rate increase would come in two parts: an interim increase starting in January, which would boost the typical residential customer's bill by about $4 a month, and a smaller increase a year later.