Minnesota's attorney general is renewing a call for legislation to block utility companies from temporarily hiking their rates while they wait for state approval of permanent rate increases.
Lori Swanson says Monday that Minnesota should join 18 other states that prohibit the practice. She first sought the law change nearly three years ago.
Swanson's office says public utilities collected about $525 million in temporary rate hikes since 2008, but that nearly $177 million was later refunded to customers after permanent rates were approved by Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission.
Swanson and DFL legislators say it's hard and unfair that financially struggling Minnesotans should have to budget for the temporary rate spikes. Their legislation would let utilities like Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power temporarily raise rates only if they could demonstrate an "immediate and compelling necessity."