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Xcel Energy defends $665M Monticello plant project

MONTICELLO, Minn. (AP) -- A Minneapolis-based energy company says customers should pay for a $665 million project to rebuild a power plant in Monticello.

Xcel Energy executives are defending their actions in an investigation conducted by utilities regulators. The company spent five years and more than twice the original estimate reinvigorating the 1970s-era plant.

The government-hired experts claim Xcel didn't understand the complexity of the job, planned it poorly and inadequately supervised its contractors.

Dave Sparby, chief executive of Xcel's Minnesota regional operations, says the project is safer, more reliable and still cost effective.

Regulators will ultimately decide if the company's investment was economical.

At a public hearing in October, an administrative law judge will examine the state's evidence, Xcel's 750-page response and other submitted information to decide whether the company's investors or customers should pay for the project.

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