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Customer Solutions

Customers are becoming increasingly interested in making active choices about the energy solutions that best meet their individual needs and preferences. While it might seem that a regulated utility like ours is limited in its ability to offer customers choice, we have found a number of ways to give them options within the parameters of our industry. We’re guiding customers to energy solutions that meet their needs and empowering them to make their own decisions about their energy.

Xcel Energy offers more than 90 electric and more than 45 natural gas efficiency and load management programs for residential and business customers to choose from. Our diverse and innovative programs include more convenient payment options, rebates for energy efficient upgrades and the chance to make a difference by choosing renewable energy. Customers are taking advantage of these solutions in large numbers, and they have expressed strong satisfaction with their ability to select programs that best meet their individual energy needs. We also are working to meet the fueling needs of customers who choose to drive electric and natural gas vehicles as more of these vehicles become available to the markets we serve.

Energy Efficiency Programs

Customer Choice photo

Xcel Energy has developed a broad portfolio of energy efficiency offerings so all customers have an opportunity to save energy and money. From rebate programs to energy audits to recycling services, our award-winning programs provide solutions that customers value. Xcel Energy offers more than 135 electric and gas programs for residential and business customers and we’ve been a leader in energy efficiency and conservation since the 1990s. Our Responsible by Nature website helps customers to learn more about the programs and rebates available to them.

Xcel Energy is continuously evaluating emerging technologies and program models to develop products that benefit our customer segments. An important part of the process is considering what our customers and communities want and value. Xcel Energy assesses its demand side management (DSM) product offerings based on several criteria in addition to cost effectiveness. We seek to ensure value to all stakeholders, provide options for all customer segments, control costs and customer rate impacts, balance energy savings and demand savings, and develop products that provide long-term energy and demand savings to meet future customer needs.

It’s critical that we help our customers understand the benefits of DSM projects and make it as easy as possible to take advantage of them. Xcel Energy provided more than $75 million in rebates to residential and business customers in 2013. We want to help customers save money by improving their energy efficiency. This helps the environment at the same time. In total, our programs had nearly 3.3 million electricity and 748,000 natural gas participants in 2013―some of our customers participate in multiple programs.

In 2013, two of our energy efficiency programs were honored by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA). Our Computer Efficiency and Kilowatt Crackdown programs won Inspiring Efficiency awards. The awards recognize Midwest leaders that deliver groundbreaking advancements in energy efficiency in five categories: leadership, education, impact, marketing and innovation. In Colorado, Xcel Energy received the Leadership in Energy Efficiency award from the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) for our sustained excellence.

See Xcel Energy’s efficiency and conservation programs outlined by state, customer type and category.

See the details of our energy efficiency program results for 2013.

Energy Efficiency Open Houses and Customer Awards

We recently recognized 12 Colorado businesses and six Minnesota businesses for their individual efforts to save energy through our 2013 energy efficiency programs. These companies collectively saved more than 63 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and more than 1.3 million therms of natural gas. Awards were presented at our Energy Efficiency Open Houses in Denver and St. Paul. More than 250 Colorado business customers attended the Denver event, and about 700 Minnesota business customers attended the St. Paul expo. These events featured teams of experts from Xcel Energy and outside organizations, providing participants with energy saving ideas and opportunities for rebates and energy efficiency study funding. Highlights of the event included an LED technology workshop and a project financing seminar designed to help participants build an efficiency strategy to meet their energy saving targets and reduce their costs.

State-by-state Overview and Performance
Minnesota

Residential Programs

Program offerings range from prescriptive rebates to in-home services providing energy efficient materials and installation labor. Consumer education is included with most of the residential programs to increase conservation awareness and to encourage energy-wise choices and behavior in the home.

In 2013, we exceeded participation and energy savings goals for our residential electric efficiency products in Minnesota. The residential Cooling, Home Lighting, Refrigerator Recycling and Energy Feedback programs were the largest contributors to electric savings success. The residential natural gas efficiency products completed the year successfully too with all the rebate programs surpassing their goals. Specifically, Heating System Rebate, ENERGY STAR Homes® and Energy Efficient Showerheads were strong contributors to the segment’s total gas savings.

As the lead electric performer within the residential segment, the Home Lighting program exceeded its savings goal by approximately 48 gigawatt-hours. The program saw continued strong customer interest and response to the various promotions and event marketing. The residential Cooling and Refrigerator Recycling programs also contributed significant electric savings. The latter surpassed its goal largely due to additional marketing efforts and a special promotion during summer months. The ENERGY STAR Homes program nearly doubled its electric savings due in large part to the entry of CenterPoint Energy’s new ENERGY STAR Homes gas program into the market.

Nearly all the residential natural gas programs exceeded the energy savings goals we set primarily because of annual trainings and frequent trade partner communications. The Water Heating Rebate program saw nearly a 50-percent increase in customer participation, likely due to a stronger retail promotional presence in our gas service territory.

Business Programs

Xcel Energy’s business segment includes electric and natural gas commercial, industrial and small business customers. There are a variety of programs to encourage these customers to save energy, lower their energy bills and/or peak demand, and minimize environmental impacts. These include:

  • Demand response programs that help lower customers’ electricity use during peak periods in exchange for lower rates or energy bill discounts.
  • Equipment rebate programs that lower the upfront cost for customers to purchase and install energy efficient equipment or process improvements.
  • Studies and audits that help customers identify, plan, prioritize and implement their efficiency and conservation efforts.
  • Holistic programs that combine awareness, study funding and equipment rebates within a single offering. These encourage long-term energy planning to help customers analyze, track and implement efficiency plans rather than ad-hoc efficiency projects.
  • Business education, advertising and promotional efforts that increase awareness of energy use and conservation options, which drive behavioral changes and lead to future participation in our programs.

Electric efficiency and conservation programs for businesses showed strong performance in 2013. Among the many successes were:

  • The Lighting Efficiency and Process Efficiency programs produced more than 116 gigawatt-hours of energy savings. The holistic approach of Process Efficiency in particular encourages the development of targeted savings plans to encourage customers toward deeper and sustained efficiency improvements.
  • Computer Efficiency also saw exceptional performance in 2013.
  • Business New Construction had an outstanding year, bringing in more than 35 gigawatt-hours of savings—the culmination of focused efforts over the past few years, return of a healthy economy within the region and increased interest in green building certifications and practices. Growth in this market is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.

Trade and community groups continue to engage in efficiency projects. We have worked to provide the tools and resources they need to become advocates for energy efficiency, creating partnerships with the company. Through these partnerships, we are able to expand our reach, generate awareness and increase participation in our efficiency programs.

Low-Income Programs

The low-income segment includes the Home Energy Savings program (HESP), Multi-Family Energy Savings program (MESP) and Low-Income Home Energy Squad program. These are designed to provide services and products that help income-qualified customers reduce their energy use and ultimately lower their energy bills. HESP offers customers a home energy use analysis to identify areas for energy savings and energy efficiency upgrades. MESP provides electric energy efficiency measures and information to customers in multi-family building. The Low-Income Home Energy Squad program performs a quick assessment of each participant’s home to identify opportunities for energy saving and implement those measures during the same visit.

2013 was the first year for the Multi-family Energy Savings program. Performance was strong as a higher number of units in larger complexes were reached, resulting in more participation than forecasted. This then created a higher number of installations than anticipated in the program design.

South Dakota

Residential and Business Programs

Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency portfolio in South Dakota is a mix of electric programs designed to encourage our residential and business customers to save energy and lower their energy bills in a variety of ways. For businesses, we offer Lighting Efficiency Rebates as well as load management programs to help reduce peak demand. For residential customers, we offer Ground Source Heat Pump Rebates, discounted CFLs through our Home Lighting program and educational outreach programs. 2013 was our second year with active programs in South Dakota, and we continue to work with customers and the building trades to promote energy efficiency.

North Dakota

Residential and Business Programs

In North Dakota, Xcel Energy provides savings opportunities to customers through our load management programs, as well as gas education and energy audit programs.

Wisconsin

Residential and Business Programs

In Wisconsin, we participate in the statewide program called Focus on Energy. The program provides incentives to eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses for installing cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Xcel Energy retains a portion of the approved annual funding for our voluntary customer programs, including our Community Conservation Program, and to promote the Focus on Energy programs. The retained dollars also fund general conservation activities, advertising and energy efficiency education for residential customers, commercial customers and trade allies in our service territory.

Michigan

Residential and Business Programs

In Michigan, Xcel Energy participates in the statewide program called Efficiency United. The program educates residential and commercial customers about energy efficiency and offers cost-effective solutions and rebates for reducing energy use. Michigan does not allow Xcel Energy to retain any of the funding dollars for internal programs.

Colorado

Residential Programs

Xcel Energy’s residential energy efficiency programs focus on cost-effective, direct impact products that target household appliances and lighting. This effort is supplemented with educational services intended to further increase customer understanding and interest in conservation and energy efficiency.

In 2013, the electric products in our residential program performed very well. The following products exceeded target: ENERGY STAR® New Homes, Home Lighting & Recycling, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR and School Education Kits. The Home Lighting & Recycling product led performance in the residential electric segment, with more than 600,000 participants.

The residential natural gas program achieved its target and had corresponding expenditures above target due to achievements in ENERGY STAR New Homes, Heating System Rebates, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR and Showerheads. Water Heaters and Insulation were the only products to falter. This is likely due to continued low natural gas prices, which reduced the potential savings benefits for customers, made those products appear less attractive and lengthened payback periods.

Business Programs

Energy efficiency sales to business customers are achieved through Xcel Energy’s account managers and Business Solutions Center, end-use equipment vendors and energy service companies. Our business program—for commercial and industrial customers of all sizes—offers a broad portfolio of DSM products designed to meet the needs of this varied segment. The portfolio has three primary components:

  • Prescriptive products focus on the most common equipment.
  • Custom products encourage savings from unique situations, often involving newer technologies or measures.
  • Study and educational products help customers identify energy efficiency opportunities.

In 2013, the performance of the electric products in Xcel Energy’s business program was just above target—at 101 percent of anticipated net generator kilowatt-hours. Lighting Efficiency was the largest contributor to business program achievements, as anticipated. New Construction far exceeded expected achievements due to economic improvements in 2013. Additionally Computer Efficiency exceeded its electric savings target due to strong partnerships with upstream manufacturers. Small Business Lighting also exceeded electric savings targets in 2013.

The performance of our natural gas products in the business program exceeded the anticipated savings target by 25 percent in 2013. These achievements were the result of an improved economy, which led to more growth and more participation in our New Construction and Recommissioning programs.

Low-income Programs

The primary objective of low-income programs is to reduce energy use in homes of low-income customers, thereby reducing their bills.

The low-income program consists of the Single-Family Weatherization, Multi-Family Weatherization, Energy Savings Kit and Non-Profit Energy Efficiency programs. These analyze the natural gas and electric use of low-income customers and provide them with products, services and information to help them lower their energy bills.

In 2013, the main driver in the electric portion of the low-income portfolio was Multi-Family Weatherization, which exceeded its anticipated performance due to higher than expected participation. On the natural gas side of the portfolio, Xcel Energy’s low-income program exceeded targets on the performance of Energy Savings Kit, Multi-Family Weatherization and Single-Family Weatherization. The Single-Family Weatherization product established a new partnership opportunity with Energy Outreach Colorado resulting in additional savings. Many weatherization measures affect the use of natural gas, driving higher performance in this area.

New Mexico

Xcel Energy offers a broad portfolio of programs to meet the needs of business, residential and low-income customers in our eastern New Mexico service territory. In 2013 we saw strong performance on the business side in Lighting, Cooling and Motors programs, resulting in exceeding goals by 2 percent. In our residential portfolio, the Home Lighting and School Education Kits programs were the leaders. We have filed a new 2014-2015 DSM plan that includes expanded program offerings to achieve our DSM goals in New Mexico.

Texas

 

We offer our Texas customers energy efficiency programs through third-party standard and custom contracts. These programs are provided to residential, low-income, small commercial, and commercial and industrial customers.

Windsource®

Through our Windsource program, launched in 1998, we were an early adopter of wind energy. Windsource is a voluntary green energy program that gives customers the option to purchase more renewable energy than that provided by our standard energy mix.

Xcel Energy offers the program in five states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin. In 2013, Windsource was ranked the third largest voluntary green energy program in the United States based upon customer participation and the fifth largest for energy sales, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Customers can purchase as little as one 100-kilowatt-hour block of renewable energy or opt to have 100 percent of their electricity consumption provided through Windsource. The Green-e Energy Program certifies that Windsource meets the environmental and consumer protection standards established by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions.

In 2013, the program celebrated its two billionth kilowatt-hour of renewable energy sold in Colorado. Only four other U.S. utilities have reached this milestone in green energy sales. Strong customer interest in 2013 increased the number of participants in the program by more than 15,000 customers—a 27-percent increase over 2012.

2013 Windsource Results
  Customers MWh
  Residential Commercial & Industrial Total  
NSPM (Minnesota) 33,115 264 33,379 170,185
NSPW (Wisconsin & Michigan) 3,635 59 3,694 10,912
PSCo (Colorado) 35,843 827 36,670 196,992
SPS (New Mexico) 852 91 943 4,453
Total 73,445 1,241 74,686 382,541

Solar*Rewards®

Xcel Energy is committed to providing new energy choices and encouraging the growth of solar energy on our systems. Through Solar*Rewards, we offer customers in Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico incentives to install solar panels on their homes and businesses. Customers continue to respond positively, installing more than 19,000 photovoltaic systems through the end of 2013, with a capacity of about 204 megawatts (DC).

2013 Solar*Rewards Results
State (year program launched) 2013 Systems / MWs (DC) / Incentives Systems to Date / MWs (DC) / Incentives
Colorado (2006) 5,413 / 51.76 / $20.26 million 18,274 / 188.10/ $293 million
Minnesota (2010) 94 / 1.3 / $1.5 million 680 / 8 / $15.57 million
New Mexico (2009)1 34 / 3.1 / $2 million 115/ 7.6 / $4.9 million
1 Our Solar*Rewards program in New Mexico pays customers for actual system kilowatt-hour production rather than the upfront incentives provided in other states.

Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards programs in Colorado and New Mexico experienced record growth in 2013. More than 80 percent of the increase in Colorado came from third-party installers that build and own solar energy installations on customers’ properties and then lease the systems back to customers.

By spring 2013, the Colorado Solar*Rewards program had reached its annual program goal of 9.6 megawatts for small systems up to 10 kilowatts each. With Solar*Rewards fully subscribed so early in the year, Xcel Energy reached an agreement with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) to continue offering the program by advancing available capacity planned for 2014 and by continuing to offer incentives at a declining rate—something previously approved by the utilities commission.

In Colorado we file an annual Renewable Energy Standard Plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that proposes how Xcel Energy will continue to meet the state’s Renewable Energy Standard for the coming year. Xcel Energy proposed to maintain current Solar*Rewards program levels, targeting an additional 36 megawatts in new on-site solar installations in 2014. A more controversial aspect of our proposal addressed issues we see with the fairness and sustainability of current net metering policy, which was originally established to help encourage the adoption of rooftop solar and other distributed generation technologies. Our plan proposed a way to provide greater transparency to net metering by quantifying and tracking costs that we believe are shifted from solar customers to non-solar customers under the policy. The goal is to start an informed conversation and develop a solution to this issue with the utilities commission, policymakers, the solar industry, customers and other interested stakeholders.

Our Solar*Rewards program in Minnesota was originally launched as the state’s first solar incentives program. It helped to make owning solar energy more affordable. In 2013, we proposed the next generation of Solar*Rewards to continue this renewable option within our Minnesota service territory. The new program has potential to add about 32 megawatts of rooftop solar by 2020—more than four times the current amount. We will phase out the previous Solar*Rewards program and begin offering the new program in 2014.

Learn more about Xcel Energy’s work on solar policy issues in 2013.

Community Solar Gardens

Xcel Energy supports the development of solar gardens, which provide our customers a convenient option for investing in local solar energy. Solar developers build community-based shared solar installations connected to our grid and then offer customers various options to purchase the energy produced. Solar gardens leverage the economies of scale that come with building larger systems.

We launched the Solar*Rewards® Community® program in Colorado in 2012. In 2013, nearly 400 customers signed up to participate in the 25 solar garden projects, approved and under development through the program. So far seven of the projects with a combined capacity of 3.4 megawatts are operating in our Colorado territory and 10 more are expected to be completed in 2014.

Building on this success, we submitted a proposal for a similar community solar gardens program—Solar*Rewards Community—to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in 2013. The MPUC reviewed the proposal in February of 2014, and we anticipate the program will open to applicants in 2014.

Solar*Connect™

Xcel Energy has proposed an additional solar option for interested customers. Solar*Connect will take advantage of large-scale solar, providing solar energy at a lower cost to customers. Customers will be able to purchase solar power through subscriptions. It will make solar available to almost all customers, even if they don’t have the means to install solar panels on their homes or businesses. The program will complement the other solar energy programs Xcel Energy has available, providing customers with even more renewable choices.

Solar*Connect is one more way we are working to achieve our objective to make renewable energy available at the right cost, to the greatest number of people in the communities we serve. So far we have proposed the program to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. If approved, we anticipate customer enrollments for Solar*Connect could begin in early 2015. The program can benefit all customers, even those who do not have solar, by requiring a lower incentive than any other customer-driven solar product.

Repowering Transportation

In Xcel Energy’s service territory for 2013 the market for electric and natural gas vehicles remained in the initial growth stages. While less than 1 percent of our customers currently own these vehicles, the market is projected to grow as new vehicles become more affordable and fueling is made increasingly accessible and easier. As an energy provider, Xcel Energy has the unique opportunity to support customers and communities that want to participate in this vehicle market. We offer the safe, clean, reliable energy to fuel electric and natural gas vehicles at an affordable price.

Xcel Energy has developed three areas of focus for supporting alternatively fueled vehicles:

  1. Enable the market by supporting customers who choose to repower their transportation
  2. Get the rules right by engaging stakeholders to develop policy and regulations that support the market in way that is equitable and fair to all customers
  3. Manage system impacts by providing reliable and safe energy to fuel vehicles at an affordable cost to customers

Supporting Customers

Along with specific Xcel Energy initiatives that support customer vehicle fueling and public education, we encourage customers to contact us to ensure that adequate system infrastructure is in place to support their fueling needs.

  • Across all service territories, we worked with auto manufacturers and station developers to install public fueling stations for both electric and natural gas vehicles. We also supported the completion of multiple charging stations at universities, municipal facilities and other key public locations through Xcel Energy’s Chairman’s Fund, a special program that supports innovative community projects that advance, demonstrate or promote clean energy technologies.
  • We offer our time-of-day rate in the Upper Midwest to customers who charge electric vehicles.
  • In Colorado, we fulfilled year two of a three-year electric vehicle charging pilot program. The pilot program aims to study customer acceptance of demand response and charging behaviors. Under the program, we work with a limited number of customers to minimize load on the electric grid during peak hours. Participating vehicle owners have the opportunity to earn credit on their Xcel Energy bills in exchange for allowing us to interrupt their vehicle charging for a limited number of hours throughout the year. The pilot is planned to run mid-2014.
  • Xcel Energy markets Windsource for EVs specifically to electric vehicle owners who want a renewable fueling option. We are collaborating with community partners and customers to promote the Zero Emissions Challenge, a Windsource offset for public charging stations.
  • Some Xcel Energy employees now drive electric vehicles to and from work. Under a pilot program, employees have the option to charge electric vehicles at Xcel Energy facilities for a reasonable monthly fee that covers electricity and administrative costs.

Policy Development

Xcel Energy continues to work with stakeholders to help develop state policy and regulations that support the market and customers who purchase electric and natural gas vehicles. It is important that new rules are fair to all customers—both those who own vehicles and those who do not. To make it easier for third parties to install fueling stations, we proposed changes in 2013 to our policies to include a special tariff and construction allowance.

System Readiness

We have conducted several studies of our electric and natural gas systems to verify that we can manage the increased load as customers begin using our energy to fuel vehicles. Our Natural Gas System Strategy and Business Operations groups have actively supported compressed natural gas fueling customers with planning and economic analysis, as well as helping to identify locations on our system with higher gas pressure and vehicle traffic.

To stay informed about electric vehicle purchases and system needs, we participate in the Electric Vehicle Information Exchange (EVIX), which helps us track vehicle sales throughout our service territory. We also receive monthly vehicle sales reports from auto manufacturers. Additionally, the electric vehicle charging pilot, use of electric vehicles in our fleet and market research about adoption trends continue to inform the company’s strategy for the future.

Learn more about how we’re helping to repower transportation.

Municipalization Efforts

In 2013, two cities within our service territory considered municipalization: Boulder, Colo., which began their municipalization effort in 2011, and Minneapolis, Minn., which decided not to pursue the establishment of a municipal utility in November.

Boulder

In November 2013, voters in Boulder defeated measure 310, an Xcel Energy supported initiative that required voter approval of any debt amount to create an electric utility and required county customers to have a vote in the decision to form a municipal utility. Voters passed ballot measure 2E, a city-sponsored measure that limits the amount of debt to $214 million for the acquisition of our system and start-up of its own utility.

In January 2014, the city of Boulder sent Xcel Energy a Notice of Intent to Acquire, a legal requirement before the city can bring a condemnation lawsuit to attempt to acquire our electric system and business. The city also appealed to a state district court an earlier PUC order in which the PUC confirmed it would need to review Boulder’s plans as it relates to acquiring facilities that serve both city and county customers. While this latest appeal is expected to take at least six months to resolve, Boulder officials have indicated they may not wait for the judge’s ruling in that case before filing a condemnation action. The city council made clear its intention to acquire our electric business and has authorized its attorneys to begin condemnation proceedings.

We have asked the Colorado PUC to revisit the terms under which our demand side management and renewable energy programs are offered to customers inside Boulder city limits. These voluntary programs are supported by Colorado customers, all of whom share in both costs and benefits. Xcel Energy wants to better protect customers who don’t reside in Boulder from subsidizing programs benefiting a Boulder municipal utility, if and when the city creates one. We have tried on numerous occasions to reach an agreement with the city on how these voluntary programs should be handled. To date, no agreement has been reached.

We know Boulder customers want more renewable energy, and we are bringing more wind and solar not only to Boulder, but to all of our 1.4 million customers across Colorado. We’re on track to reduce our Colorado carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2020 (from 2005 levels) and 29 percent of our energy supply coming from renewable sources by 2020. We believe the city is significantly understating its costs to municipalize and are skeptical it will be able to meet the terms of the initiative and match our rates, let alone match the level of renewable energy and energy efficiency we provide—two major drivers behind the municipalization effort.

Read more about Boulder’s municipalization.

Minneapolis

In August 2013, the Minneapolis City Council held a public hearing to consider the possibility of municipalization. The majority of those who attended the hearing opposed to the measure, as did two-thirds of residents surveyed on the issue. The council passed a resolution stating it would not ask voters to authorize the establishment of a municipal utility in November. The resolution seeks a partnership with Xcel Energy on meeting the city’s climate action plan and directs city staff to begin negotiations on franchise agreements. The city coordinator is expected to update the council on these efforts by June 2014.

The city completed an Energy Pathways study that was commissioned in June 2013 to explore options to meet the city’s energy goals. Results were released in February 2014. We believe the interests of the city, its residents and businesses are best addressed by the city and Xcel Energy working together. We have the foundation and the path forward for a collaborative approach to address the city’s energy goals without driving up costs or sacrificing reliability.