Customer Support

Public Policy Engagement

Our Approach

Over the next decade our industry will undergo significant changes, driven by market forces and encouraged or supported by government policies. We have more than a century of on-the-ground energy experience—whether we are meeting everyday customer needs, managing complex systems or responding to an emergency. It’s critical that we share our expertise with policy makers and elected officials as they make decisions that may impact our business and the service we provide to customers and communities.

Xcel Energy participates in industry, trade, business and other associations to provide our perspectives and to learn from the perspectives and experiences of others. We also meet and communicate with policy makers and legislators through special events, associations and one-on-one meetings, and we provide input and formal comments on proposed legislation and regulation.

Public Policy Matters

We continue to help shape the dynamic, significant change happening in our industry, with a focus on four key areas.

Customer Choice: Changing Customer Expectations

Customers are increasingly demanding more energy service and product choices, and will push policies to create those choices if they are not available. Third parties are able to innovate and keep pace with technology advancements to offer customers new solutions, while the pace of the regulatory process in some cases hinders our ability to provide customers more choices in a timely fashion. In order to maintain our position as our customers’ trusted energy advisor, we will pursue regulatory reforms that allow us to respond more quickly to customer interests.

We also find that with the lack of near-term federal action on carbon policy, state and local governments are pursuing their own goals. Communities and regulators are increasingly interested in electrification of heating, transportation and industrial sectors as a strategy to decarbonize. We are working with local governments to provide options for meeting their energy goals.

In addition, corporate customers are increasingly adopting goals for carbon emissions reductions and renewable energy that drive demand for additional clean energy options and policy changes. Current and potential customers are seeking to customize their energy usage so that it is cleaner while being just as reliable. We continue to work on policies that enable us to advance and expand customer offerings to meet this demand through programs such as Renewable*Connect®.

Grid Modernization: Changes at the Grid Edge

Aging grid infrastructure, along with the need to integrate increasing distributed energy resources and changes in customer expectations, require the distribution grid to evolve to meet increasing demands, while maintaining reliability, safety and resilience.

With advanced metering and grid investments, greater adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs), and new rate design, we will be collecting increasing amounts of data on our customers on how and when they use energy. Data analytics capabilities will be critical to the success of grid modernization and present Xcel Energy with new opportunities to craft individualized customer solutions. As we expand these capabilities, we also must maintain and protect customers’ data privacy and establish cybersecurity standards.

Regulators will continue to initiate proceedings to proactively plan for a more modern distribution grid and incorporating more DERs — proceedings that are likely to result in changes requiring integrated distribution planning, streamlining interconnection standards and accommodating new technologies. It is important that we are proactively engaged in these processes and continue to promote the value the grid provides to all customers.

Generation Transformation: Changing Where Our Energy Comes From

Xcel Energy is moving rapidly to decarbonize our generation fleet. By 2021 a majority of our generation will come from carbon-free resources and mostly from wind energy. If successfully implemented, our ‘steel for fuel’ strategy will lower customer costs, reduce risk to the company and result in increased earnings.

States are taking the lead in encouraging renewable energy generation by, among other things, increasing their renewable portfolio standards. While some states are merely increasing requirements, others are taking a more proactive approach by adding a timing component—requiring more clean energy at peak times—creating an incentive for storage as well as renewables.

There is increasing scrutiny of the cost effectiveness of baseload generation, particularly in deregulated states where utilities have divested generation. Several states have turned to subsidies to maintain nuclear generating capacity that was threatened with early retirement in unregulated markets. While our regulated assets do not face the same market uncertainty, continuing price declines for renewable and natural gas-fueled generation may raise questions about the costs of maintaining our baseload fleet in the future. As our generation mix changes and increases variability, new transmission is needed both to interconnect new resources and ensure that the energy can flow with minimal congestion constraints. We seek balanced transmission expansion that meets these needs with the lowest possible cost to our customers.

With more distributed generation coming online, utilities will increasingly be required to incorporate integrated distribution system planning in their resource plans. Increased transparency of the distribution system will ease the integration of DERs, provide data for valuation of those resources, and potentially establish a distribution grid as a platform for a distributed-energy resource market that we will own, operate and compete in. We are working to increase our capability for this planning and are gathering increasing information about our system through our advanced grid initiatives.

Storage is the most rapidly advancing distributed energy resource in the near term. Xcel Energy embraces energy storage as an opportunity to provide value and flexibility to the grid, to be proactive in implementing emerging technologies, and to be responsive to customer interests. Besides operating a pumped hydro storage facility for almost 50 years, Xcel Energy has a number of battery storage facilities deployed or in development. We are deploying emerging storage technologies through pilot projects to determine their value to our system, and will deploy the technology more broadly both in front of and behind the meter as they become cost effective. We are also working with the operators of our bulk energy markets to update market dispatch software and other aspects of resource integration to accommodate this promising technology to the extent that it provides system value.

Safety: Grid Resilience and Security

Historically, risks to grid reliability revolved largely around natural phenomena such as floods and major storms.  Our dedicated field personnel are adept at responding to these types of events so that customer service can be restored as quickly as possible. 

However, as the use of technology and interconnected systems expands, the grid is increasingly subject to attack by those who might choose to do us harm, whether for criminal purposes or as part of an effort to undercut our national security.  While it is impossible to protect our grid against every malicious attack, we are taking reasonable and prudent steps to prevent, detect and mitigate the impacts of any malicious intrusion.  We are hardening systems to limit opportunities for attack and deploying enhanced monitoring and detection systems to help us promptly identify any successful intrusion.

We are also engaging with other members of our industry, other segments of the economy and the government to increase threat information sharing and test our combined capabilities to respond to an attack.  Individually and in collaboration with other utilities we are working to prepare our personnel and systems for responding to a successful attack by developing inventories of spare equipment and processes for preserving reliability in the unlikely event our key operational systems were to be compromised. 

As part of our efforts, Ben Fowke, Xcel Energy chairman, president and CEO, is a member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises the President on ways the nation can protect its critical infrastructure.  He also participates in the Electric Sector Coordinating Council, which serves as the principle liaison between the federal government and the electric power sector on these issues.

Regulatory Reform: Changing How the Utility is Regulated

As our industry transforms, so too should our regulatory structure. Across the country, states and stakeholder groups are examining how we should adapt the regulatory framework for utilities. These efforts are designed to align energy policy and technology advancement with utility business models, both by changing how utilities earn a return for their investors and by reforming regulatory structures to incentivize grid modernization and innovation or increasing competition.

As state regulatory commissions and other stakeholders take on these initiatives, we are engaging in these proceedings to ensure our utility perspective is represented. We continue to emphasize the value of the vertically integrated utility and the grid to our customers in providing stable and predictable rates and continued reliability.

Regulators around the country are also using rate design reforms to achieve different goals—either to promote and subsidize the adoption of DERs or to ensure that customers are properly allocated the costs they are responsible for. Our global solar agreement and the rate programs it established in Colorado are an example of how we will provide valuable data to inform the company’s approach to more closely align rates and costs. We will continue to advocate for rate design changes that align with our core principles of cost causation.

Federal regulators also drive changes in technology adoption and cost allocation but on the bulk energy system. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been active in addressing energy storage and DERs, and continues to advance national transmission expansion priorities.

Tax Reform and Policy: Supporting Reforms that Benefit our Stakeholders

Xcel Energy supports tax reform that will benefit our customers and shareholders and that will support our ‘steel for fuel’ strategy, which is a win-win strategy for our customers and shareholders and will make renewables the dominant resource in our portfolio in coming years.

We support the general principles outlined by Congress and the Trump administration of lowering the corporate rate by broadening the tax base. However, the regulated utility sector is distinct from other industries, and we have been educating administration officials and members of Congress on those distinctions.  

The utility sector is the most capital-intensive industry, with annual investments above $100 billion nationwide. The longstanding tax deduction for interest expense is a key aspect of the code that helps facilitate these investments in a cost-effective way for our customers. Some tax reform proposals would shift away from interest deductibility and toward full expensing. We oppose this because it would trade away interest deductibility — a major benefit for our customers—in exchange for a timing benefit that regulated utilities cannot utilize due to normalization requirements. In order to keep energy bills affordable and predictable for customers, we strongly support retaining the deductibility of interest in lieu of adopting full expensing. 

We also support the existing phase out of the wind production tax credit and the phase down of the solar investment tax credit. Xcel Energy along with other energy providers made investment decisions based on the existing tax code and IRS administrative guidance. Retroactive changes in the law or administrative guidance could negatively impact these investments to the detriment of utility customers across the country.  

Political Contributions and Lobbying

Xcel Energy has a corporate policy that sets guidelines and rules for political contributions and to ensure all contacts with government officials meet legal and ethical standards.

Our board of directors, leadership and employees must comply with all federal laws restricting the making of political contributions or expenditure using corporate funds in connection with elections for federal offices. When communicating about matters involving Xcel Energy, the board of directors, leadership and employees must accurately convey corporate messages and support the Xcel Energy brand.

Xcel Energy's Political Contributions Report provides corporate contributions and dues paid to trade associations.

Employee Policy Engagement

Grassroots advocacy is important to Xcel Energy because our industry is so complex. Xcel Energy employees can help educate their friends, neighbors and community leaders by participating in:

Political Action Committees

Xcel Energy sponsors seven Political Action Committees or PACs organized and run by employees, six at the state level and one at the federal level. Participation in the company’s PACs is completely voluntary and is part of the engagement activities that we offer employees.

Each of the company-sponsored PACs has its own board of directors elected by its members that make contribution decisions. All of our PACs are strictly voluntary, and there are no employment benefits based upon participation. Each complies with all applicable local, state and federal laws. 

2016 Xcel Energy Political Action Committee Activity

PAC

Employees Participating**

Total Employee Contributions to PAC

Total  Contributions Made to Candidates

Minnesota

344

$42,366

$31,100*

North Dakota

371

$7,747

$2,200

South Dakota

344

$5,975

$9,600

Texas/New Mexico (SCOPE)

433

$37,370

$66,450

Colorado (Western PAC)

374

$23,672

$33,100

Wisconsin

355

$32,455

$44,392

Federal PAC (XPAC)

416

$250,378

$256,300

* Funds contributed by employees can accrue over multiple years and are not necessarily distributed in the same year they were contributed.

**The state PAC in Minnesota is operated outside of Xcel Energy in accordance with state law that prohibits the use of corporate resources to support the PAC; although, payroll deduction is specifically permitted in Minnesota. Activity for the Minnesota PAC is only included in this report for transparency and informational purposes.

Additional Resources

Read our corporate policy on political contributions, lobbying and government communications

Find our report on Political Contributions Report.

Learn more about the 'steel for fuel' strategy and our use of renewable energy.

Public Policy Engagement (PDF)

Energy Saving Tip

Rather than crank up your heat in the winter, keep your thermostat at a moderate level and bundle up. (Who doesn't love fuzzy slippers?)

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Gas Meter Safety

Keep your natural gas meter dry and clear of snow and ice at all times to avoid the potential for dangerous indoor natural gas buildup.

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