CEE Statement on Xcel Energy Resource Plan, 2020-2034

Oct 22, 2019

On July 1, Xcel Energy filed its latest Integrated Resource Plan for its Upper Midwest operations, outlining how the utility will meet the energy needs of its customers from 2020 through 2034. Minnesota utilities are required to file such plans every few years to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which regulates electric and natural gas utilities’ services and service providers.

In this plan, Xcel is committing to retire all of its coal units by 2030, add 4,000 megawatts of solar generation, replace 1,200 megawatts of wind generation that is set to retire over the course of the resource plan, prioritize the creation of high-quality construction jobs and apprenticeship opportunities, and make the largest commitment to energy efficiency of any utility in state history.

At the first in a series of public meetings on the plan required by the Minnesota Public Utilities commission, this week CEE's Director of Policy Mike Bull provided this statement:
CEE applauds Xcel Energy’s commitment to lead the nation in a rapid clean energy transition at the pace and scale that climate science requires. The importance of this resource plan extends beyond Minnesota — the entire U.S. electric utility industry is watching and will need to follow Xcel’s path if we are to succeed in meeting the climate challenge. Unlike the handful of other electric utilities that have made similar commitments, Xcel has not just made a commitment to decarbonizing their electric supply — they are following through on it in this resource plan, reliably and affordably.

I want to focus on one aspect of this Xcel resource plan that’s especially important to CEE. In this plan, Xcel has revolutionized how energy efficiency is treated in resource planning in Minnesota, resetting the bar for all other utilities and all other resource plans.

Prior to this plan, Minnesota’s electric utilities have focused their energy efficiency resource planning goals on mere compliance with the state’s Conservation Improvement Program efficiency target of 1.5% of annual retail sales, holding as close to that target as possible. In contrast, Xcel has agreed to embrace a new method, based on data from Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Statewide Efficiency Potential Study released in fall 2018.

This new method resulted in nearly doubling the usual amount of cost-effective energy efficiency in a resource plan, displacing more expensive supply-side investments and resulting in a more cost-effective resource plan. So much energy efficiency, in fact, that this new method resulted in sufficient capacity from efficiency measures alone to replace the 500 megawatt Allen S. King coal-fired power plant in 2028.

Minnesota law requires that cost-effective energy savings are to be preferred over all other energy resources, and for the first time in Minnesota history, this Xcel resource plan treats efficiency that way. No utility has ever proposed, and no Commission has ever ordered, energy efficiency in a resource plan anything near the scale that Xcel Energy has proposed in this resource plan. That is a major clean energy win and we applaud Xcel for their ongoing leadership on energy efficiency.

No resource plan is perfect. But without a doubt, this Xcel Energy resource plan is among the best, if not the best, resource plans I’ve seen filed in any jurisdiction by any utility in my 25 years of experience working in this area. I look forward to engaging with Xcel Energy and other stakeholders to improve the plan in the coming months. But today, we at the Center for Energy and Environment simply want to congratulate Xcel Energy on this historic resource plan. That concludes my remarks. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
CEE is actively engaged with Xcel Energy and other stakeholders working to further strengthen the plan over the next few months. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will make a final determination to approve, change, or reject Xcel’s resource plan after fielding input from stakeholders, government agencies, and the public.

About CEE

Center for Energy and Environment is Minnesota’s oldest and largest clean energy nonprofit, with special expertise in energy efficiency that stretches back nearly 40 years. From research to programs, consulting, policy efforts, and financing, CEE provides a range of practical and cost-effective energy solutions for homes, businesses, and communities to strengthen the economy while improving the environment.

Media contact

Tim Hanrahan, thanrahan@mncee.org, 612-244-2419