Xcel Energy stresses improvement in CO2, renewable energy

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) is increasingly growing its renewable energy sector and reducing carbon emissions, Xcel Energy Chairman, President and CEO Ben Fowke told the Wolfe Research Power and Gas Leaders Conference in New York.

Xcel owns fully-integrated and regulated utilities located in eight states and that means “you are going to be in front of the regulator often,” Fowke said. It also means you have “regulatory diversity” so no one decision will sink the company, Fowke said.

Xcel Energy is on track to meet or exceed renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the states where it operates.

Xcel is the No. 1 wind energy provider in the nation with 4,900 MW and No. 5 in solar capacity with 265 MW. Increased renewable generation together with retiring or repowering old coal plants has enable Xcel to decrease its carbon dioxide emission 16% between 2005 and 2012.

Xcel’s wind fleet has grown from 3% of its generation in 2005 to 12% in 2012 and is on track to hit 20% in 2020, Fowke said. This 2020 figure includes 1,650 MW of proposed new wind projects. The wind percentage would increase if 250 MW of new wind capacity is approved in Colorado.

Xcel expects to start seeing state commission decisions later this year on its proposals for expanded wind power in Minnesota and New Mexico.

On another, non-carbon note, Xcel announced Sept. 23 that it has started a refueling outage at its 550-MW Prairie Island Unit 2 in Minnesota. The effort will include a steam generator replacement, the company said in a news release.

CEO lauds Xcel response to storms; notes Boulder situation

The Xcel executive lauded company crews for their response to “the horrific storm season that we’ve had.” This includes severe weather in Minnesota and the “catastrophic” floods in Colorado.

While trying to help residents around Boulder, Colo., Xcel’s Public Service of Colorado, finds itself in a dispute over Boulder’s interest in “municipalizing” the utility’s assets there.

Boulder is also seeking to annex about 6,000 PSCo customers, Fowke said. The Xcel CEO discussed the Boulder situation in response to a question.

The Boulder dispute is an example of increasing demand for local choice and control, Fowke said. He noted that Xcel Energy had faced a similar situation in Minneapolis in the recent past.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.