Xcel Energy was the first major U.S. power provider to announce a vision for delivering 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. Today, we’re on track to reduce carbon emissions by 85% from 2005 levels by 2030 and provide electricity that’s more than 80% carbon free.
We’ve expanded a similar commitment to provide a net-zero natural gas system by 2050, with an interim goal to reduce, by 25%, greenhouse gas emissions from the supply, distribution and customer use of natural gas by 2030.
One thing is clear as we strive to meet these ambitious goals for the natural gas system: customers want more clean energy options. It’s our job to figure out how to do this while maintaining safety, reliability and keeping bills low.
We just filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission our Clean Heat Plan, our first significant proposal to make dedicated investments in emissions reductions for the natural gas system that serves our customers. Designed to accommodate each customer’s unique needs, the plan offers a portfolio of solutions allowing customers to choose options that work best for them, leading to greater emission reductions at a lower cost.
The plan also creates an avenue to try new things and to track clean, resilient, innovative solutions while ensuring our customers receive the reliable, affordable energy they need to power their lives. Specifically, the plan encourages electrification options, energy efficiency, hydrogen and other clean fuels, advanced leak detection, methane emission reductions, and more.
The plan follows the successful path we took on the electric side of our business, using proven tools to accelerate emission reductions today, while making strategic investments in new energy innovation so we can take advantage of the most scalable and cost-effective options as they mature.
This means we plan to use every tool available, including the existing natural gas system. Most of our customers rely on natural gas for heating their homes and businesses because it’s reliable, and it’s available 365 days a year, under all weather conditions. Natural gas is a highly flexible and efficient fuel for the millions of customer furnaces, boilers, water heaters, stoves, and other appliances across the colder climate communities we serve in Colorado. Our existing natural gas system, working together with newer solutions, is how we will continue to deliver for our customers today while working toward our 2050 net-zero carbon energy vision.
With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s an extraordinary time to map the future of energy. Coupled with the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, there are new funding sources available to flexibly add new clean technologies even as we make our natural gas system cleaner.
We are working with state leaders and the Colorado Energy Office to help secure available funding to make smart, strategic investments, and test and learn from emerging technologies. Xcel Energy is incubating and scaling emerging technologies, like heat pumps, long-duration battery storage, biomass gasification, direct air capture for synthetic natural gas production, clean hydrogen production, and more.
But we can’t achieve this transition alone. We are doing this work in partnership with others so we can jointly find solutions and drive innovation together. Some of the groups who are supportive a suite of demonstration projects within the plan include a diverse set of organizations and key customers including the Colorado Energy Office, Energy Outreach Colorado, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the City and County of Denver, the City of Boulder and Boulder County, Rocky Mountain Institute, the Colorado School of Mines, Williams Energy, Kuva Systems, Denver International Airport and Ball Arena.
We are committed to keeping costs and bills low for customers while providing them with new clean energy choices, and our Clean Heat plan is how we will achieve emissions reductions goals, responsibly.
Robert Kenney, of Lone Tree, is president of Xcel Energy-Colorado.