XCEL Energy

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Performance Band
Organisation Score
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Minneapolis, United States
Official Web Site:

Climate Lobbying Overview: Xcel Energy appears to actively engage with climate and energy policy in the US with mixed positions. The company has advocated positively across a number of climate policy areas including renewable tax credits, but also appears to support a prominent role for fossil gas while opposing some policy measures to promote distributed energy generation.

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 appear to have engaged sporadically and with mixed positions on specific climate policies and regulations. 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. Previously, 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. According to a November 2020 Utility Dive article, Xcel CEO Fowke criticized Biden’s proposed clean electricity target, calling the proposal a “moonshot.” In Colorado’s 2021 legislative session, Xcel testified in opposition to Colorado Senate Bill 200 in April 2021, which would require the Air Quality Control Commission to direct utilities to reduce their GHG emissions 100% by 2040 relative to 2005 emissions levels. However, as part of a state coalition launched in March 2021, Xcel endorsed the development of a clean fuel standard in Minnesota. The company also supported the inclusion of renewable energy tax credits in the December 2020 federal stimulus package, as reported by the Star Tribune in 2021. In the company’s Q2 earnings call in July 2021, CEO Fowke stated that the company is advocating for the Clean Energy for America Act and supporting federal tax credits for renewable energy. Previously, the company described distributed energy generation policies as “hidden and unfair subsidies” in its 2019 Carbon Report, and as reported by the Washington Times, lobbied the Minnesota legislature to reduce or eliminate the state’s community solar program in July 2020.

Xcel also appears to have mixed positions on GHG emissions standards. In June 2021, Xcel supported the Clean Energy Future Through Innovation Act, which establishes a target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. In 2018 comments submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Xcel did not take a clear position on the agency’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, though it did advocate for a replacement rule rather than no rule at all. In these comments, it emphasized the importance of state authority and flexibility as well as the need to expand the definition of “best system of emissions reduction” (BSER) in order to achieve greater emissions reductions.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Xcel appears to generally support the transition of the energy mix, though with some exceptions. In a September 2021 article by the Star Tribune, Xcel appeared to support the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program in the federal reconciliation bill. In July 2021, E&E News reported on Xcel’s support for Colorado Senate Bill 72, which authorizes the expansion of electric transmission facilities to meet the state’s clean energy goals. The company also testified in Colorado in 2021 to amend both 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.

Xcel appears to continue to promote the importance of fossil gas in the energy mix, as reported by the Star Tribune in March 2021, without setting clear conditions on methane emissions abatement or CCS. In August 2021, S&P Global recorded remarks from 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. The company does not appear actively engaged on clean transportation measures. However, in December 2019 comments from the company to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, subsidiary PSCo advocated for greater utility authority in electric vehicle deployment in the state.

Industry Association Governance: Xcel has disclosed a list of its memberships to industry associations but provides no further detail on these organizations’ climate policy positions, nor the company’s alignment with them on climate change. It has not published a formal review of its industry associations. The company holds a board-level position on the American Clean Power Association, previously the American Wind Energy Association, a group generally supporting an ambitious climate agenda in the US. The company is also a member of the Edison Electric Institute, which demonstrates mixed positions on US climate policy, and the American Gas Association, which has assumed a highly negative stance toward climate policy.

Strength of Relationship

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.