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Generation

Xcel Energy currently owns and operates 78 generating plants capable of producing more than 16,000 megawatts of power. About two-thirds of the electricity we provide customers is produced at these facilities; we purchase the other one-third through power-purchase agreements. We use a variety of fuel sources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear fuel, water (hydro), oil and refuse; we also have facilities that generate electricity from the wind and sun.

We’ve made significant improvement in our unplanned outage rates (UOR) over the past several years and are now performing in the second quartile, according to industry benchmarks. Our UOR for 2013 was 5.1, beating our target of 5.5.

Generation Operating Model

Our Energy Supply group uses a Generation Operating Model and Playbook that enables our generating plants to function as a unified fleet. The Generation Operating Model evolved from a benchmarking study of top utilities and is built on the fundamentals of:

  • Clear accountabilities
  • Standardization
  • Technical excellence
  • Organizational alignment

We have launched several successful initiatives to standardize our work planning and scheduling across the fleet; centralize overhaul management responsibilities; reduce costs in the supply chain; implement standard processes for common operations duties; roll out standard engineering training programs; and improve workforce planning. Enhancements to the work management planning and scheduling process have decreased plant backlogs, contributed to cost savings and improved plant reliability. We improved the ratio of planned maintenance to corrective maintenance from 40 percent in 2012 to 50 percent in 2013.

In 2013, we deployed a diagnostic center at six of our generating stations to remotely monitor plant conditions on a real-time basis. Monitoring and diagnostic technology is intended to detect plant abnormalities before they appear as failed equipment or lost generation. We expect to realize a total savings of $8 million annually through proactive maintenance, shorter plant outages and reduced fuel costs. Ongoing shop and field inspections have also better enabled us to discover and correct defects prior to failure. Finally, our Quality Assurance & Control program made an impact in reducing both service and material quality issues in 2013.

Generation Investments and Modernization

Sherco power plant

We are modernizing generation facilities throughout our eight-state area to provide increasingly clean, low-cost electricity to customers. Xcel Energy works proactively to install emission controls on the most efficient coal-fired generation plants, while replacing the least productive facilities with new natural gas-fired generation. In Minnesota, we have replaced some of our aging coal-fueled plants with highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle units and have increased electricity production capabilities at Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

Similar upgrades are underway in Colorado through the Clean Air-Clean Jobs project that will retire and replace 702 megawatts of older, coal-fueled generation with a new, highly efficient 569-megawatt natural gas plant and will retrofit 951 megawatts of coal-fueled generation with modern emission controls. In addition, 352 megawatts of coal-fueled generation will be switched to natural gas under the project. In 2013, a fourth unit was added to Jones Generating Plant in Texas to meet growing electric demand in the region. We also continue to develop our renewable energy portfolio, which is the best in the nation, through new power-purchase agreements in all regions.

Our proactive approach to modernizing plants, investing in renewable resources and improving environmental performance overall has allowed us to proceed at our own pace and complete projects in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Our generation projects are accomplished with support from stakeholders and through a resource planning process that assesses customer energy requirements, the resources necessary to meet these needs and anticipated resource costs.

Learn more about our resource planning process.

Owned Generating Plants

Type Plants Units Summer Net Dependable Capacity in Megawatts (MW)
Coal 13 27 7,424
Natural Gas 25 72 6,956
Nuclear 2 3 1,594
Hydro 26 79 377
Diesel/Oil 2 11 305
Refuse-Derived Fuel 3 6 52
Wind 3 238 461
Solar 4 4 0.1
Total 78 440 16,754

1 Net generating capacity is 327 MW for Xcel Energy owned wind energy facilities. Summer net dependable capacity is determined to be lower because wind generation is an intermittent resource and is only available when ambient wind conditions exist.

Learn more about our power plants.

2013 Energy Supply

2013 Owned and Purchased Energy (total in MWh)
  Owned generation Purchased generation Total
Upper Midwest 29,249,141 15,751,280 45,006,157
Colorado 22,872,613 12,163,839 35,036,452
Texas/New Mexico 18,813,940 10,266,208 29,080,148
Total 70,935,694 38,187,063 109,122,757

Xcel Energy 2013 Energy Mix

Upper Midwest 2013 Energy Mix

PSCo 2013 Energy Mix

SPS 2013 Energy Mix

1 Includes wind energy separated from renewable energy credits (RECs) that were sold in 2013

2 Includes wind energy used for Windsource®

3 Includes solar energy generated by customer-owned systems through Solar*Rewards®

4 “Other” includes small amounts of power purchased from a number of sources