Xcel Energy (XEL)
By Alleen Brown
Fortune 500 rank: 260
CEO: Richard C. Kelly
414 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401
What it does:
Xcel Energy is a holding company for four utility companies, including Northern States Power Company, Public Service Company of Colorado and Southwestern Public Service Company. Together, the subsidiaries provide power to eight states, including Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Number of Facilities:
16 Coal Plants
28 Natural Gas Plants
2 Nuclear Plants
26 Hydro Plants
4 Oil Plants
3 Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) Plants
1 Wind plant
Allen S King — coal plant in Oak Park Heights; operating since 1968
Black Dog — coal and natural gas plant in Burnsville; operating since the 1950s
Buffalo Ridge — wind power plant in Southwestern Minnesota; operating since the 1980s
Hennepin Island — hydro plant in downtown Minneapolis; original dam built in 1882
High Bridge — natural gas plant in downtown St. Paul; operating since 1923
Monticello — nuclear plant in Monticello; operating since 1970
Prairie Island — nuclear plant near Red Wing; operating since 1973
Red Wing — refuse-derived fuel plant in Red Wing; operating since the 1940s
Riverside — coal plant in Northeast Minneapolis; operating since 1911
Sherco — coal plant in Becker; operating since the 1970s
Wilmarth — refuse-derived fuel plant in Mankato; operating since the 1940s
Total Employees: 11,987
Minnesota Employees: About 5,800
Revenue: $10 billion
Net Income: $577 million
S & P Data from October 2008. Chart by Denise Rath.
Xcel Energy has only been in Minnesota for a few years. Before 2000, Northern States Power provided energy to the state for almost a century. According to an NSP promotional document, “NSP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” the state’s first power company was the St. Paul Gas and Light Company, which served 72 people starting in 1865. The company eventually became a part of NSP. NSP started as Washington County Light and Power Company in 1909 and became Northern States Power in 1916.
NSP opened its two Minnesota nuclear plants in the 1970s. Their place in the state continues to attract criticism. Waste storage is particularly controversial. A 2003 Star Tribune article said that since the United States does not have a permanent storage facility for the country’s nuclear waste, the plants have to store it in cask containers on site, which worries environmental activists and community members.
Minnesota passed legislation in 2007 that requires Xcel to produce 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. According to Xcel’s 2007 Renewable Energy Plan, the main source of renewable energy will be wind. The company also processes landfill gas, refuse-derived fuel (from municipal waste), water and biomass. Through their Minnesota Emissions Reduction Plan, Xcel is investing money in its coal plants to reduce air emissions and increase productivity.
Alleen Brown is a senior journalism and global studies student at the University of Minnesota.