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ND PSC says Burgum's Super Bowl trip won't affect utility regulation

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum attends the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis with his wife, Kathryn Helgaas Burgum. Via Twitter

BISMARCK—Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission said Wednesday, Feb. 14, Gov. Doug Burgum's decision to attend this month's Super Bowl as a guest of Xcel Energy won't affect how they regulate utilities.

Burgum's spokesman originally said the first-term Republican and his wife wouldn't pay for the tickets, but the governor later said he reimbursed the Minneapolis-based utility $37,000 in an effort to "eliminate even the perception of any conflict." Burgum said he had "constructive conversations with top Xcel executives" and the tickets wouldn't influence his decision-making.

Members of the Public Service Commission, who regulate utilities like Xcel, said the governor's discussions with company are separate from their work.

"We will review whatever the company proposes based on our criteria," Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus, who was appointed by Burgum last year to fill a vacancy on the three-member commission, said the episode has "no impact on any pending or future cases" with Xcel.

"My job is to look at each case objectively," he said. "But I think it does point out that you always have to take into consideration the optics."

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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