To Our Stakeholders:
By design, Xcel Energy is built to withstand storms. Our crews have responded to tornadoes, hurricanes and floods — sometimes only months apart. Throughout our 100-plus-year history, we’ve overcome numerous natural disasters to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy that our customers and communities count on every day.
In early spring of 2020, we faced a different kind of challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic — with the stay-at-home mandates and social distancing guidelines — that have fundamentally changed American life.
It’s reinforced the essential role we play in society — in keeping people safe while enabling their daily lives, in driving economic development, protecting the environment, and of course, serving as a resource and partner to our local communities. COVID-19 also underscores our tremendous responsibility to employees — the people that make our business run, especially those on the front lines who keep the lights on and the natural gas flowing.
Safety is more than a priority at Xcel Energy. It’s a core value that we live every day. To protect our workers and reduce the spread of COVID-19, we immediately implemented numerous new guidelines — from staggered work schedules to extra protocols when entering customer homes and limiting visitors at our facilities. Every employee who can work remotely has done so, and we’ve supported our workers’ health and financial security by expanding medical benefits and providing paid time off for employees who are quarantined or need additional recovery time.
Prior to the pandemic, we launched an initiative to reshape our safety culture. We’ve made great strides in reducing injuries in the past decade, but new research and updated industry best practices have shown that the absence of reported injuries does not necessarily assure safety.
Going forward, instead of focusing on an injury count, we are increasing efforts to prevent the most life-altering injuries and fatalities by identifying the most serious risks inherent in our work. We’re encouraging open communication and more information sharing — we want our employees and contractors to feel comfortable reporting injuries so they can get the care they need, and we can learn from one another’s experiences.
It’s an example of the values-based workplace culture we are fostering, one where all employees strive to be: Committed, Connected, Safe and Trustworthy. Through these values, we bring our very best to work each day to serve customers and meet our three strategic priorities: leading the clean energy transition, enhancing the customer experience and keeping customer bills low. At all levels, we’re aligning our work to make sure everyone is focused on these same priorities through our performance management, professional development and recognition programs.
The people we serve need us today, more than ever. Thousands of our customers have lost jobs or put their work on hold, so to help them, we’ve stopped all electric or natural gas service disconnects during this time. We also immediately stepped up to donate $1.5 million through Xcel Energy and the Xcel Energy Foundation to address food insecurity and other relief efforts within our eight-state service territory.
To encourage employees to support their favorite nonprofits, we ran a Disaster Response Matching Gifts campaign that offered a 2-to-1 match. Xcel Energy employees always deliver — within weeks, employee donations, combined with the match, contributed another $450,000 to communities.
Last year, our employees volunteered nearly 82,000 hours and served on more than 500 community boards. Altogether in 2019, employee giving and donations from Xcel Energy and the Xcel Energy Foundation contributed more than $11 million to nonprofits in our communities.
Because the need now is so great, we plan to contribute at least $20 million in short- and long-term corporate giving, including COVID-19 relief, to help communities get back on their feet. The funding will come from the sale of the Mankato Energy Center, which is expected to close in fall 2020.
Giving isn’t the only way we support our communities. Last year, more than 70% of our company purchasing on goods and services — $3.1 billion — was with businesses in our service territory, including businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. Continuing to support local business will be more important than ever as the coronavirus outbreak has caused significant damage to businesses across the country.
One of the many things we’ve learned from this pandemic is that nature can be our refuge, and we must protect it for current and future generations. For the past 15 years, we have led the clean energy transition while ensuring reliability and enhancing affordability. In December of 2018, we became the first major U.S. power company to announce a vision to provide customers 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.
Our vision includes an important interim goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2030 using existing technologies. I’m pleased to say that we’re more than halfway there. At the end of 2019, we reduced carbon emissions 44% — compared to 2005 levels — from the electricity serving our customers. We’re reducing greenhouse gases by adding more large-scale wind and solar that deliver economic and environmental benefits, using flexible natural gas to integrate more renewables, transitioning away from coal, expanding energy efficiency programs, and possibly extending the licenses of our carbon-free nuclear plants.
Reducing carbon is only part of our environmental commitment. As we transition to cleaner sources of energy, we use less coal and reduce other environmental impacts. Since 2005, we’ve produced 47% less coal ash, reduced water consumption 23% and cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides at least 80%.
In addition to addressing the environmental impact of electricity, we have a comprehensive plan for cutting emissions reliably and affordably across the natural gas system. We’re investing more than $1 billion in projects that secure our pipelines and reduce methane emissions. This includes replacing all the cast iron and most of the bare steel pipe from our system with secure plastic and protected steel pipe. In early 2020, we joined ONE Future, a consortium of natural gas companies committed to keeping methane emissions below 1%.
Another focus of this work includes programs to help customers reduce their carbon emissions associated with the use of natural gas. While we’re looking at programs that can support customers now, we need advanced technologies. That’s true for our zero-carbon aspirations overall. To eliminate the remaining 20% of carbon from our system reliably and affordably, we will need advanced 24/7 technologies that aren’t commercially available today. This is a primary focus of our policy work, to partner with others and advocate for federal and state policies that support the research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies.
Long before COVID-19, we chose “The Future in Sight” as the theme for this report because of the foundational work we completed in 2019 to achieve the carbon-free future we envision — a future that includes a significant expansion of renewable energy and electric vehicles, as well as a state-of-the-art power grid.
Through our Advanced Grid initiative, we are investing in technology that will enhance reliability and security and allow us to incorporate more renewables and develop more choices for customers to manage their energy — and save money — in real time. The effort is well underway in Colorado, along with a pilot project in Minnesota. This modern grid includes the deployment of two-way smart meters that will allow customers to manage their energy use in real time and save money on their bills.
We completed three company-owned wind farms in 2019: Hale in Texas, Foxtail in North Dakota and Lake Benton in Minnesota. The projects are part of our Steel for Fuel growth strategy and the nation’s largest multi-state wind investment. When this development is complete by the end of 2021, we expect to grow our wind ownership fivefold compared to 2016.
Another way to reduce carbon is expanding our increasingly green product to the transportation sector. Ten years from now, we expect a much higher percentage of EVs on the road and our EV program continues to expand to more states. We’re focusing our efforts on three areas: home charging, public charging and infrastructure, and helping business customers and communities to convert their fleets.
Our society can’t function without the energy we provide every day, and we’re reminded of that fact often during these challenging times. It’s about so much more than energy. It’s about investing in our communities, growing our local economies, preparing for the future and listening to our customers. During this coronavirus outbreak, our team has demonstrated its resiliency, flexibility and dedication to getting the job done. We’re battling this unprecedented storm to serve our customers unlike ever before.
We embrace the special trust our customers place in us and our responsibility to deliver solutions to improve their lives. As you read our Corporate Responsibility Report, you will learn more about our commitment to meeting our economic, environmental and community responsibilities.
Thank you for your partnership. We look forward to building the future with you.
Chairman and CEO
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