Marking Earth Day Monday, investor-owned utility Xcel Energy said it had reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 16 percent, or 14 million tons, since it began a reduction strategy in its eight-state service territory in 2005. The company’s goal is to achieve a 20 percent CO2 reduction by 2020, and it said the latest projections are that it will surpass that goal by up to 7 percent.
“We all share the goal of satisfying the country’s growing energy demands in the least expensive, most reliable and cleanest way possible,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We continue to successfully pursue a strategy that reflects our customers’ desire to protect the environment and our desire to produce clean energy while maintaining reliable service at an affordable price.”
In a news release, the firm said its emissions-reduction strategy is built on three components:
• Renewable energy. AWEA recently again named Xcel Energy the No. 1 provider of wind energy in the nation. Xcel Energy has held that spot for nine consecutive years.
• Efficiency programs. For 30 years, Xcel Energy has provided its residential and business customers with efficiency and rebate programs to help them save energy and money.
• Power plant upgrades/repowering. Xcel Energy pursues power plant emission-reduction initiatives that address environmental concerns efficiently.
Fuel diversity is an important part of the overall strategy. Xcel Energy provides power from sources including coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, hydro, biomass and solar.
At the end of 2012, Xcel Energy had nearly 4,900 MW of wind electricity generating capacity on its system, enough to power the equivalent of 1.5 million homes and at least 600 megawatts more than the next leading utility. Wind power currently generates about 12 percent of the energy the company supplies to its customers, and additional wind resources are being sought in Colorado, the Upper Midwest and Texas.
Xcel Energy’s efficiency programs have had a significant impact as well, it said. Since 1992, enough electricity has been saved through the company’s efficiency programs to avoid the need to build nearly 10 medium-sized power plants in Minnesota.
Xcel Energy was one of seven utilities that first set goals for reducing carbon emissions and developed strategic plans back in 2004.
“As the utility industry prepares for federal regulation of carbon dioxide and other emissions, we support flexibility in rules that allow states to develop diverse emission reduction strategies and an early action credit for companies that have proactively implemented clean energy programs,” Fowke said.
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