Environmental Management

Managing our environmental responsibilities continues to grow more challenging as the rules become more complex. Every day we work to comply with a multitude of requirements designed to protect the air, water, land and wildlife surrounding our operations. By improving our environmental impact and lowering emissions through our proactive clean energy strategy, we reduce our compliance risk. We have in place a strong environmental management system that guides our compliance efforts. It is based on a corporate-wide environmental policy for which all employees are accountable.

Environmental Management System

We have a formal environmental management system designed to ensure continuous improvement and compliance with all applicable environmental requirements. Our management system provides:

  • Board of directors—Nuclear, Environment and Safety Committee
  • Chairman, president and CEO
  • Executive Committee
  • Environmental Policy department
  • Environmental Services department
Risk analysis
  • Goals and performance indicators at corporate and operating levels
  • Multidisciplinary teams for developing new compliance programs
  • Environmental Audit program
Policies & procedures
  • Corporate environmental policy
  • Formal, documented procedures
  • Regular monitoring of new, evolving regulatory activity
  • Compliance tracking system
  • Monthly performance reporting
  • Routine facility audits
Follow-up for compliance gaps Tracking for corrective action and internal audit findings
Training & communication
  • New employee orientation
  • Site and topic specific employee training
  • Updates and information communicated through internal channels

Additional Resources

Read our corporate environmental policy.

Compliance Results

We strive to operate in compliance with all federal, state and local rules and regulations. However, there are occasions when regulatory agencies issue notices of violation (NOVs) or other types of notifications of potential noncompliance for alleged exceedances of permit limits or regulatory requirements. These NOVs can potentially result in fines or penalties. Often there can be disputes about the alleged noncompliance, and even when it is our view that we remained in compliance, settlements are often reached to avoid the transaction costs of litigation and to cooperate with the regulatory agencies.

Every year as part of our internal and ongoing efforts to self-identify and self-correct any potential noncompliance issues, we conduct our own facility audits. In 2014, we conducted about 76 internal audits to ensure compliance.

2014 Compliance Activity
Activity 2014
Notices of Violation or Compliance Advisories 5
Penalties Paid $7,500
External Agency Audits or Inspections 142
Internal Audits Conducted to Ensure Compliance 76

Additional Resources

Learn more about Xcel Energy’s Environmental Management System.

Environmental Expenditures for 2014

Environmental costs include payments for nuclear plant decommissioning, storage and ultimate disposal of spent nuclear fuel, disposal of hazardous materials and waste, remediation of contaminated sites and monitoring of discharges to the environment. Increasingly stringent regulation has caused higher operating expenses and capital expenditures for environmental compliance.

In addition to nuclear decommissioning and spent nuclear fuel disposal expenses, costs charged to operating expenses for environmental monitoring and disposal of hazardous materials and waste were approximately:

  • $361 million in 2014
  • $275 million in 2013
  • $263 million in 2012
  • $265 million in 2011
  • $256 million in 2010
  • $225 million in 2009
  • $213 million in 2008
  • $173 million in 2007

Nuclear decommissioning and spent nuclear fuel disposal expense information is in our 2014 10-K.

Capital expenditures for environmental improvements at regulated facilities were approximately:

  • $373 million in 2014
  • $517 million in 2013
  • $255 million in 2012
  • $48 million in 2011
  • $473 million in 2010
  • $89 million in 2009
  • $230 million in 2008

Leading Environmental Commitment