Minneapolis (Feb. 26, 2020) – Xcel Energy hit a significant milestone in its quest to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. The company recorded its largest single-year drop in emissions in 2019, cutting carbon by 5.6 million tons, a more than 10% reduction in one year. Since 2005, the company has reduced carbon emissions by 44% as it leads the nation’s clean energy transition.
“We’re making tremendous progress on our clean energy journey. Our 2019 carbon results demonstrate our ability to transition to low-carbon energy resources while keeping service reliable and customer bills low,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy.
Several factors contributed to these results. The company increased wind generation on its system, with wind energy making up more than 20% of its energy supply last year. The increase is due to the completion of three significant wind projects in 2018 and 2019, including Rush Creek in Colorado, and Hale and Bonita in Texas. Other factors include flexible coal plant operations, strong performance from the company’s nuclear fleet and low natural gas prices, which allowed Xcel Energy to continue reducing coal generation.
Xcel Energy’s 2019 carbon reductions are well ahead of its industry, which is ahead of any other part of the economy. The electric industry is on pace to reduce carbon emissions about 30% in 2019 from 2005 levels, according to preliminary results from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Just as we’re committed to reducing carbon emissions from the electricity we provide, we’re also working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our natural gas business and we’re taking several ambitious steps to do so,” said Fowke.
Xcel Energy has joined ONE Future, which is a consortium of natural gas companies working together to voluntarily reduce methane emissions below 1%, by 2025. That’s a level that studies show minimizes impact on the environment.
Xcel Energy has pledged to keep its own methane emissions to less than .2% in its natural gas operations. The company will report its methane emissions annually to ONE Future, which has reporting standards that go beyond what regulations currently require.
Xcel Energy has also invested more than $1 billion to improve its natural gas pipelines and tighten its system. The company also participates in EPA’s voluntary Natural Gas STAR and its Methane Challenge program.