MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Xcel Energy has proposed splitting its utility operations in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Xcel says widening policy differences between the two states over clean energy have caused stresses that might best be solved by a breakup.

But a consultant for the North Dakota Public Service Commission is arguing against the separation. The consultant says North Dakota wouldn't get long-term benefit and customers probably would wind up paying more.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy has operated a single subsidiary for its electrical and gas businesses in the two states for nearly a century.

North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus says his panel plans a formal hearing in late January.

Minnesota regulators decided last month not to take further action for now but to monitor North Dakota's proceedings.