XCEL Energy

InfluenceMap Score
C-
Performance Band
53%
Organisation Score
66%
Relationship Score
Sector:
Utilities
Head​quarters:
Minneapolis, United States
Official Web Site:
Wikipedia:

Climate Lobbying Overview: Xcel Energy engages on U.S. climate policy with mixed positions and demonstrates a lobbying presence across several states including Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Although the company advocates for renewable energy tax credits, it appears to support a prominent role for fossil gas. Xcel is a member of the Edison Electric Institute, and serves on the board of the American Gas Association, both of which promote the long-term role of fossil gas in the energy mix.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: Xcel has limited top-line messaging on climate policy and does not appear to have taken an explicit position on the Paris Agreement or the need to reduce GHG emissions in line with IPCC science. In a February 2021 Economist article, CEO Ben Fowke stated that the company prefers legislation over climate-related regulations as it is “not as subject to change.” In a June 2021 op-ed in Utility Dive, however, Fowke appeared to support US federal policies to respond to climate change.

Engagement with Climate-Related policy: Xcel and its subsidiaries demonstrate mixed positions on U.S. federal and state climate policies. As reported by Roll Call in May 2022, CEO Bob Frenzel appeared to support the clean energy tax credits in the Build Back Better Act. A few months earlier in January 2022, Xcel signed a joint letter organized by the American Clean Power Association that advocated to Congressional leadership to pass the legislation's clean energy tax credits. However, Xcel is actively unsupportive of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed methane emissions standards: in January 2022 comments to the EPA, it stated that “it is important to recognize that attaining zero emissions from the natural gas supply chain is likely not feasible, cost-effective, nor necessary to meet climate goals.” The company also joined the Class of ’85 Regulatory Response Group January 2022 comments in opposing updates to the methane regulations. Previously in November 2020, former CEO Ben Fowke criticized Biden’s proposed clean electricity target, calling the proposal a “moonshot” in a Utility Dive article.

Xcel demonstrates more negative positions on state-level climate proposals. According to its lobbying reports, Xcel directly engaged with policymakers in March 2022 to oppose Colorado Senate Bill 22-138, which proposed 2028 and 2040 statewide GHG emissions reduction goals. Xcel similarly opposed Colorado Senate Bill 21-200 in April 2021, which proposed GHG emissions reduction targets for utilities. In its 2019 Carbon Report, Xcel described 762270 distributed energy generation] policies as “hidden and unfair subsidies,” which reflects in its engagement on community solar policies: in Wisconsin in August 2021, subsidiary Northern States Power opposed Senate Bill 490, which aimed to establish community solar programs in the state; previously, as reported by the Washington Times in July 2020, Xcel had lobbied the Minnesota legislature to reduce or eliminate the state’s community solar program.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Xcel takes mixed positions on the transition of the energy mix, appearing to support transport electrification while promoting a long-term role for fossil gas. For example, S&P Global recorded remarks in August 2021 from former CEO Fowke, in which he seemed to support both the expansion of zero-carbon technologies and the continued use of fossil gas. In that same article, however, Fowke advocated for an immediate transition from coal. As reported by the Star Tribune in September 2021, Xcel appeared to support the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program in the Build Back Better agenda.

Xcel actively engages on state-level policies related to the energy transition, especially in Colorado. According to its April 2022 lobbying reports, Xcel supported Senate Bill 22-193, which aimed to reduce emissions through a wide range of policies. The company also reported its lobbying activities to amend House Bill 22-1382, which included building electrification provisions, without disclosing further details on outcomes sought. In the same month, in comments on Colorado’s Draft 2022 Clean Truck Strategy, Xcel advocated for state policymakers to begin the rulemaking process to adopt California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule. Previously in early 2021, the company testified to amend both Colorado’s Senate Bill 246 on transitioning from fossil-fuel based systems and House Bill 1238 on using the social cost of carbon and methane emissions in fossil gas utility decision-making. Based on Xcel’s Q2 2021 earnings call in July 2021, it appears that these amendments may have focused on affordability provisions. As reported by the Energy and Policy Institute in February 2022, Xcel co-launched the group Coloradans for Energy Access which advocates for the long-term role of fossil gas and opposes electrification in the state.

Industry Association Governance: Xcel has included an overview of its trade association memberships in its 2021 Sustainability Report, however fails to disclose details of each group’s engagement activities. The company has not published a formal review of its industry associations. Xcel serves on the 2022 Board of Directors for the American Gas Association (AGA), which demonstrates negative positions on U.S. climate policy, and is a member of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which demonstrates more mixed positions. Regarding engagement on the Biden administration reconciliation bills, EEI supported the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax credits while previously lobbying to amend the Build Back Better Act’s proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program, and AGA opposed Build Back Better’s proposed methane fee.

InfluenceMap collects and assesses evidence of corporate climate policy engagement on a weekly basis, depending on the availability of information from each specific data source (for more information see our methodology). While this analysis flows through to the company’s scores each week, the summary above is updated periodically. This summary was last updated in Q3 2022.

QUERIES
DATA SOURCES
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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
28%
 
28%
 
91%
 
91%
 
91%
 
91%
 
57%
 
57%

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.