We serve the energy needs of hundreds of cities and towns throughout our service territory, and we are integral members of those communities. We are literally connected to the communities we serve through active and ongoing investment in their infrastructures.
We believe we have a responsibility to have a positive impact in all we do—as a good neighbor, community advocate and environmental steward. Our community impact is far-reaching—from charitable giving to employee volunteering to economic development and support for energy assistance programs.
|Corporate Giving & Community Investment (managed through the Xcel Energy Foundation)||$12,965,125|
Xcel Energy Foundation
The mission of the Xcel Energy Foundation is to use the collective knowledge, resources and skills of our staff and colleagues to make a positive impact in communities throughout our service territory. Formed in 2001 as the philanthropic arm of the company, the Xcel Energy Foundation oversees the charitable activities and supports the volunteer programs of Xcel Energy and its subsidiaries. The annual budget is determined by prioritizing what the Xcel Energy Foundation board hopes to accomplish with the available resources.
The foundation board is comprised of five directors and two officers who meet three times a year to approve monthly financial statements, as well as the annual budget. The board sets policy on a number of items, including the levels at which we provide matching funds for employee efforts and our focus areas for giving. They also oversee the foundation’s investments. The majority of Xcel Energy Foundation funding comes from Xcel Energy shareholder dollars.
|Focus Area Grants||$3,928,486||$4,105,455||$3,680,428|
|Access to the arts||$636,766||$649,090||$582,630|
|United Way Contributions||$5,761,246||$5,236,942||$5,439,368|
|Company match & corporate gifts||$2,930,724||$2,431,346||$2,714,210|
|Matching Gifts Program||$1,619,269||$1,240,523||$1,409,731|
|Volunteer Matching Dollars||$279,170||$236,480||$244,750|
|Volunteer Paid Time Off (VPTO)|
|Employee Volunteer Hours||44,847||40,210||27,229|
1 Other Contributions are sponsorships, including tables, sports venues and charitable contributions made outside of the Xcel Energy Foundation.
In-kind Contributions refers to the value of donated equipment and supplies; it also includes supplies purchased for sponsoring or participating in community and volunteer events.
Employee Volunteer Hours are provided for those programs that we have a system in place for tracking, which include Volunteer Paid Time Off, Dollars-for-Doing and Volunteer Energy. Actual employee volunteer hours are greater than reported here because the company promotes and sponsors a number of employee volunteer activities in addition to the programs we track.
Volunteer Matching Dollars includes company payments to community organizations through Dollars-for Doing and Volunteer Energy.
Disaster Relief includes corporate contributions to the Red Cross and similar organizations, as well as funds donated on behalf of customers through special product promotions.
Focus Area Grants
In 2014, the foundation distributed more than $3.6 million in focus area grants to promote STEM education, workforce development, environmental stewardship, and access to the arts in the communities we serve. More than 402 organizations across our eight-state service territory received grants, averaging just over $8,500 each.
- Education Focus Area Guidelines
- Environment Focus Area Guidelines
- Economic Sustainability Focus Area Guidelines
- Arts & Culture Focus Area Guidelines
|STEM Education||Environmental Stewardship||Workforce Development||Access to the Arts||Total|
Xcel Energy was named a 2015 STEM JobsSM Approved Employer by Victory Media—a workforce development firm specializing in connecting classrooms to careers. This first-of-its-kind list rates companies on their responsiveness to creating and filling high-demand, high-growth STEM occupations. Being recognized as a top STEM employer shows job seekers that Xcel Energy is one of the best places to use their skills and the company is looking for the best to join its team.
Minnesota Signature Project
In 2014, Xcel Energy formed a partnership with a network of high performing public charter schools in north Minneapolis. Harvest Preparatory School and the Harvest Network of Schools serve about 1,300 primarily low-income students that are beating the odds and succeeding in school.
Under the partnership, the Xcel Energy Foundation provided a $50,000 signature grant for the organization to continue its mission. On the day of the check presentation, Xcel Energy employees, including chairman, president and CEO, Ben Fowke, worked with seventh graders on a special math problem to show how much energy is saved by replacing a few incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. This was just the beginning of hands-on work with the network. In early 2015, a team of Xcel Energy volunteer tutors began assisting students with math and reading in preparation for the spring Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). During Xcel Energy’s annual Day of Service, employee volunteers also helped prepare the network’s middle school grounds and the media center for the first day of school.
Colorado Signature Project
Xcel Energy partnered with the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) through a signature project in support of the organization’s Colorado Legacy Schools program. CEI is an independent nonprofit that collaborates with the Colorado Department of Education, schools and districts across the state to accelerate achievement for all Colorado students. Through Legacy Schools, they seek to dramatically increase student enrollment and success rates in AP math, science and English courses at Colorado high schools.
In addition to a $30,000 signature grant from the Xcel Energy Foundation, our employees are mentoring students at Arvada High School. The goal is to close the opportunity gap and motivate students interested in pursuing college and career pathways in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Xcel Energy volunteers met with students informally, led engaging events and accompanied students on field trips to expose them to multiple opportunities in STEM careers. This Xcel Energy signature project is now a model for the program’s other industry partnerships in schools throughout Denver because of its success.
So far, results for the program show a 73 percent increase in AP scores for the 10 schools implementing the Legacy Schools initiative. CEI recognized Xcel Energy with a STEM Champion Award in 2014 for its support.
United Way Campaign
Xcel Energy has a long-standing tradition of supporting United Way and the community organizations it assists. Each year, we sponsor an employee campaign that for the last five years has raised well over $2.5 million in employee and retiree pledges, which the company matches. The campaign also includes a number of special fundraising events—from chili cook-offs to sport tournaments. The campaign is a fun and rewarding part of working at Xcel Energy.
The company’s 2014 United Way campaign was one of the most successful, as we topped nearly every measure in our campaign history. A record number of employees participated this past year, contributing $2.7 million, which the company matched, for a total of more than $5.4 million raised. The funds will support United Way programs and hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout Xcel Energy’s service territory.
Contribution to Economic Development and Local Tax Payments
Xcel Energy is connected to the communities we serve through active and ongoing investment in their infrastructures, our local supply chain spending and the taxes we pay. We are active members in community chambers of commerce and economic development organizations throughout our service territory, and in 2014, contributed more than $1.8 million directly to these organizations. In addition, we often collaborate and work closely with our cities and towns as they try to attract and develop new business, expanding employment and revenue opportunities.
Our company also pays significant property and sales taxes. In many small communities, Xcel Energy is the largest tax payer.
City Franchise Agreements
Xcel Energy has franchise agreements with some of the cities and towns where we provide natural gas and electricity service. These agreements give us rights to use the municipality’s alleys, streets and rights-of-way so we can, for example, run power lines along city property. As part of some of the franchise agreements, we collect a fee from our customers and pay that money to the cities and towns. The franchise fee is not a tax but rather a portion of the cost to operate a utility.
In 2014, we distributed more than $180 million in franchise fees to the communities where we operate.
|Cities with Agreements||Fees Collected and Paid|
Minneapolis and Xcel Energy Form Clean Energy Partnership
The city of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have teamed up to form a novel Clean Energy Partnership to help the city reach its Climate Action Plan goals over the next 10 years. Building on a long history of collaboration, the partnership will explore innovative approaches and enhanced outcomes in energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in Minneapolis.
This first-of-its-kind effort was formally approved in October 2014. At the end of the year, it was recognized by the White House and U.S. Department of Energy, as Minneapolis became one of 16 communities nationwide named as a Climate Action Champion for its commitment to clean energy.
In early 2015, the newly formed Clean Energy Partnership board held its first meeting and will be responsible for developing a work plan, as well as overall leadership and decision making for the effort. Minneapolis’ adopted Climate Action Plan will shape the board’s work plan, and may include opportunities such as:
- Giving customers additional choices about the way their energy is generated
- Increasing residential and business use of new and existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to help consumers control energy costs and reduce greenhouse gases
- Supporting the development of renewable energy in the city and in Minnesota
- Exploring and implementing ways for the city to reduce its own energy use and increase its use of clean and renewable energy
An Energy Vision Advisory Committee will provide feedback on the board's work plan and gather feedback from critical Minneapolis communities.
As part of the partnership, Xcel Energy and Minneapolis finalized a new 10-year franchise agreement, with the option to extend the agreement for up to 20 years.
Learn more at the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership website.
City of Boulder Pursues Municipal Utility
Xcel Energy has worked with the city of Boulder for years as it explored forming a municipal utility to take over the company’s electric business in and around Boulder. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) confirmed in 2013 that the commission determines who serves Boulder County customers and the city of Boulder needs to provide the CPUC with its separation plans before moving forward with a condemnation case. In January 2014, Boulder appealed the CPUC’s orders to Boulder District Court in early 2014, and by May, Boulder’s City Council voted to form a municipal electric utility. In July, the city filed a condemnation case with Boulder District Court, formally beginning the process to attempt to take control of the electric assets in the area.
In early 2015, there were two key decisions from Boulder District Court related to Boulder’s effort to form an electric utility. The Boulder District Court affirmed the CPUC’s jurisdiction and ruling that prior to Boulder moving forward with a condemnation case, the CPUC must evaluate the city’s plans to ensure that they will not harm non-Boulder customers and the state-wide electric system as it relates to safety and reliability as well as the CPUC’s jurisdiction over the service of Boulder county customers. Most importantly, the CPUC routinely deals with these types of issues and has the expertise to properly evaluate the impacts of Boulder’s plans on other customers. The court affirmed the CPUC orders in their entirety, ruling that Xcel Energy has a certificate to serve customers outside the city of Boulder and that this property right cannot be taken away from Xcel Energy unless the city can prove to the CPUC that Xcel Energy is unwilling or unable to serve these customers. The court specifically ruled that the CPUC provides protection to customers outside the city who have no vote, and therefore, no voice within the municipality. The court also ruled that the CPUC must decide how the Boulder electric system is to be separated from the Xcel Energy system, prior to the city condemning the facilities, so that the CPUC can assure the electric system outside Boulder remains effective, reliable and safe.
The Boulder District Court also dismissed Boulder’s condemnation lawsuit. The dismissal validates the court’s first ruling that confirmed the orders of the CPUC. Before Boulder moves forward with any condemnation case in the future, the CPUC must evaluate the city’s separation plans. Boulder is currently revising its plan and indicated they intend to file it with the CPUC in the coming months.
In addition to the rulings in Boulder District Court, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must approve the city of Boulder’s plans as it relates to high voltage transmission assets and matters. As such, Xcel Energy asked FERC for a declaratory ruling, acknowledging that the FERC has jurisdiction over the transfer of assets greater than $10 million under the Federal Power Act.
At the end of 2014, the FERC weighed in on the case, granting Xcel Energy’s request for a declaratory ruling and confirming its authority in the case. The FERC’s decision supports the fact that there is a structured and necessary process Boulder must follow to protect the statewide electric system and all of our customers.
These decisions reinforce our position that there is a process to be followed which includes recognizing the important role both the CPUC and FERC play in maintaining the reliability of the grid and these commissions must be allowed to see the city’s plans and make rulings prior to the city trying to condemn our business. This process will protect the effectiveness, reliability, and safety of the state-wide electric system and all of our customers.
Xcel Energy remains committed to reducing carbon dioxide and increasing the use of renewable energy, which aligns with Boulder’s stated environmental goals. By working together, we can provide customers with options that take advantage of our mutual strengths. We continue to believe that this is the best path for success.
More information and full legal briefs are available at Your Boulder Energy.