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article imageXcel Energy becomes first major U.S. utility to go carbon-free

By Karen Graham     Dec 6, 2018 in Business
A utility serving 3.6 million electricity customers in eight states said Tuesday it has committed to eliminating all its carbon emissions from electrical generation by 2050, and becoming 80 percent carbon-free by 2030.
Colorado's largest utility company, Xcel Energy is following through with an ambitious clean energy goal — 100 percent zero emissions energy, much of it from renewables, by 2050.
Ben Fowke, president, chairman, and CEO of Xcel Energy, Xcel Colorado's parent company, sort of let the cat out-of-the-bag back in June at the EEI Annual Convention in San Diego, California. But today's announcement is the icing on the cake for Xcel.
At the time, Fowke said, “We have plans in Colorado…that will have us at a 60 percent carbon reduction and 55 percent renewable energy by 2026. The only difference is that the company wants to reach 80 percent carbon free electrical generation by 2030.
Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, said: "Our recommended plan secures long-term and low-cost renewable power, stimulates economic development in rural Colorado, and substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions — all at a saving to customers."
Xcel Energy s High Bridge Generating Station is a natural gas plant that s helping us reduce our car...
Xcel Energy's High Bridge Generating Station is a natural gas plant that's helping us reduce our carbon emissions.
Xcel Energy
Who is Xcel Energy?
Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Xcel serves 3.6 million customers across eight states — Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Fowke is also part of the leadership at the Edison Electric Institute, the main utility trade group. Xcel is the first major US utility to pledge to go completely carbon-free.
But being a clean energy provider is really nothing new to this company. According to Xcel, it has reduced its carbon emissions by 35 percent since 2005. After announcing the company's goals in clean energy in June, this was enough to win the company Utility Dive’s Utility of the Year Award for 2018.
Jarad Polis, Colorado’s incoming governor, is also excited about “Xcel having the most aggressive goal of any utility in the country.” He has also promised to work with municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives to achieve Xcel's goal.
“Colorado has always been a very innovative state and I think it’s great that we’re showing the country the way to keep rates low, have cleaner air and to do our part for our climate and embrace the future of clean energy and make it work for Colorado businesses and individuals,” Polis said.
Contrasting differences
CleanTechnica calls this story a "tale of two utility companies." In neighboring Arizona, the Koch Brothers were deeply involved in an anti-renewable campaign in Arizona.
The Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, which owns Arizona Public Service, spent $11 million to influence Arizona politics, primarily in a failed effort to keep an initiative off the November 2018 ballot that would require APS to generate more of its electricity from renewable energy, according to Utility Dive.
Between APS and the backing of the Koch brothers, Arizona became a real battleground for keeping renewables out of the state. Even though they succeeded, the reputation of APS is severely damaged, especially with the ongoing FBI investigation into APS’s political spending,
More about xcel energy, US Utility, carbonfree, clean energy transition, IPCC 6 report
 
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