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489DFFBAB687895C87258978006E4852 Hearing Summary


Date Mar 20, 2023      
Location LSB A

Presentation from Western Resource Advocates - Committee Discussion Only

02:04:37 PM  
Meera Fickling, Senior
Climate Policy Analyst, Western Resource Advocates (WRA), introduced herself
and explained the mission of WRA.  Ms. Fickling's presentation is
included as Attachment A.  Ms. Fickling gave an overview of Xcel's
base rate increase history, capital investments in gas pipeline infrastructure,
and the amount needed to collect from ratepayers to break even.

02:05:37 PM  
Ms. Fickling went
over what decarbonizing buildings looks like for reducing gas usage by
2050.  Ms. Fickling explained how the potential of using renewable
natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen in buildings is limited by hard physical
and safety constraints.  She continued by explaining how RNG and hydrogen
are expected to cost several times the wholesale price of natural gas now
and in the future.  Ms. Fickling explained that the gas utilities
investment model relies on continued growth of customers into the future.
Ms. Fickling posited that this represents a risk if the customer base does
not grow or does not grow at the rate expected, which could happen with
the movement away from using natural gas. Ms. Fickling discussed the issue
of gas lines being built at the same pace without the customer base growing
in tandem.    
02:23:14 PM  
Ms. Fickling went
over line extension allowances (LEAs). Ms. Fickling gave an overview of
who pays for utility infrastructure and who benefits. Ms. Fickling went
over how the PUC treats gas LEAs.  She then went over steps the General
Assembly could take to eliminate gas LEAs and minimize stranded asset risk.
 Ms. Fickling went over other complimentary policy suggestions.
02:32:57 PM  
Ms. Fickling responded
to questions from the committee about subsidies from utilities for customers
to connect to the gas system.  She also responded to questions about
the costs of decommissioning gas pipeline infrastructure. Ms. Fickling
answered questions about whether the average home can handle installation
of heat pumps or transition away from gas without significant upgrades.
 Ms. Fickling answered additional questions about the modeling of
reduction of use of gas infrastructure.  Ms. Fickling answered questions
about the electric grid load impact from transitioning from gas to electric.
 Ms. Fickling responded to questions about back up power if the electricity
goes out.  Ms. Fickling answered questions about start-up costs for
electric hook-ups similar to gas hook-ups and how she views those differently
in terms of stranded assets.

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