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PSCO's Colorado Settlement Praised by S&P

Calling it an example of a "successful regulatory outcome," Standard & Poor's Ratings Services praised an omnibus settlement between Xcel Energy's Public Service Company of Colorado utility and more than two dozen of its stakeholders. The deal was approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission last December.

The settlement's provisions allowing the Xcel utility to gain immediate credit quality can serve as a "viable model for the electric industry," S&P said in a new report.

"Among other things," said S&P's report, "this comprehensive settlement agreement was specifically designed to ensure that the utility's credit profile does not weaken as a result of pending stress related to its sizable construction program. With this agreement, [the utility] has effectively addressed the future costs associated with adequate supply and environmental compliance with a plan that will permit timely recovery of those costs."

Seemingly sending a message to state regulators around the nation, S&P's New York City-based analyst Judith Waite called the Colorado settlement a "major step forward in eliminating the tug-of-war over cost recovery that, in the past, has plagued the credit of so many utilities when the time comes to build."

Major points cited by S&P in the Colorado deal are:

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