Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy has torn more than a few pages from the growing western energy playbook in reiterating its commitment to developing zero-carbon electric generation. Xcel released its latest annual corporate responsibility report late last month, including a commitment to extensive carbon emissions reporting in the coming years and decades.

With plans to end coal use in the Upper Midwest by 2030, Xcel is embracing decarbonization like other major investor-owned utilities scattered in western states, committing to having its largest utility in Colorado get more than half of its generation from renewable sources by 2026.

Dubbed "Destination 2050," Xcel officials  stress that the company, with utilities in eight states, is on track to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2030. Maintaining reliability and affordability of energy over the period is also part of the goal, they said. The company committed late last year to delivering 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.

In outlining its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, Xcel has acknowledged that climate change is "an urgent issue" for many policymakers and stakeholders, noting that it is a "priority" for its utility operations.

"Planning for this transition to a clean energy future today will allow us to deliver the  products our customers want and achieve reductions that our policymakers and investors are increasingly demanding," Xcel said. The report also listed company results from last year:

  • Using climate modeling experts from the University of Denver, the company verified that its climate goals are achievable;
  • Xcel has decreased its carbon emissions 38% since 2005, exceeding past federal goals for the time period; and
  • As part of a national natural gas program, Xcel has reduced methane emissions by more than 350 MMcf, while expanding its overall pipeline system 6%.

Xcel's report noted that last year 25% of it power supplies came from renewable sources, and as a byproduct of using more clean energy sources, water consumption in its overall generation portfolio dropped by 20% and air emissions dropped 77%.