Good Public Policy Key to Building a Renewable-Friendly Utility

Date: 19 Dec 2018 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

So how do we get climate-friendly utilities? @xcelenergy is a leader among industry peers, but it was the visionary citizens and legislators in its markets who took the risk, made the map, built the roads, and gave them a push.

Everyone loves to salute the train’s locomotive, but it was the those that laid the track and built the engine that deserve most of the credit. Thank you, citizens of Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico for your leadership!


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So how did the citizens of these states build a pro-climate electric utility like @xcelenergy? Here’s a helpful timeline:

Timeline of State Policies Affecting Xcel Energy

1994
1994

In exchange for nuclear waste storage, Xcel Energy gets a wind power mandate

Then separate state-based companies, the Minnesota utility company asks the legislature for permission to store more nuclear waste at its nuclear power plants. The Legislature agrees, in exchange for 400 megawatts of wind (to double to 800 megawatts if proven … Read More

2003
2003

Xcel has to double its wind power

With 400 megawatts of cost-effective wind energy on its grid, Xcel Minnesota is required by the 1994 agreement to double its wind portfolio to 800 megawatts.

2004
2004

New Mexico tells Xcel to get to 20% renewable by 2020

The New Mexico legislature approves a renewable energy standard, requiring Xcel’s New Mexico division to get 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

2004

Colorado voters tell Xcel to build renewables

Colorado residents approve a ballot initiative requiring Xcel’s Colorado division to get 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015, subsequently increased to 30% by 2020.

2007
2007

Minnesota lawmakers require Xcel to reach 30% renewable by 2020

The Minnesota legislature approves a renewable energy standard, requiring Xcel’s Minnesota division to get 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

2013
2013

Minnesota adds a solar requirement

The Minnesota legislature approves a solar energy standard, requiring Xcel’s Minnesota division to get an additional 1.5% of its electricity from solar energy by 2020.

2017
2017

Xcel CEO says the company is swapping “steel for fuel”

Xcel CEO says the company is swapping “steel for fuel,” investing heavily in wind and solar power because they are the most cost-effective.

2018
2018

Xcel makes landmark pledge for carbon-free electricity

In December 2018, Xcel Energy pledged to provide 80% carbon-free electricity on their entire system by 2030, and 100% carbon-free power by 2050. ILSR researchers raised three key questions.

P.S. Don’t forget to look under the hood as you cheer. Here’s three crucial questions about Xcel’s 2018 pledge to be carbon-free

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Marie Donahue on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

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John Farrell
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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.