Environmental Leadership
April 22, 2024

How Xcel Energy puts Earth Day into action year-round

From renewables to pollinators, we're making progress toward a more sustainable future

This Earth Day, Xcel Energy is proud to share our ongoing commitment to the clean energy future. With ambitious goals for all the ways our customers use energy, we are making strides in carbon reduction, increasing the clean energy mix, supporting environmental efforts in our communities and more. Join us in celebrating Earth Day and our progress toward a more sustainable future.
Carbon reduction and our clean energy mix 
Through 2023, we reduced carbon emissions from the electricity we delivered to customers by an estimated 54% (from 2005 levels). We remain on track to achieve 80% carbon reduction and fully exit coal by the end of 2030. 
Beyond carbon, we have significantly reduced other emissions and environmental impacts since 2005, including sulfur dioxide (reduced by 83%), nitrogen oxides (reduced by 89%), mercury (reduced by 93%), coal ash (reduced by 58%) and reduced our water usage (reduced by 27%).  
The diversity of our energy portfolio shows the progress we’re making in adding renewables into our system. In 2023, our clean energy mix was 50% carbon free, with 40% coming from renewable energy sources like wind and solar.  


Percent Carbon Emissions Reductions 2023

Environmental Sustainability grant giving 
The Xcel Energy Foundation is committed to protecting and preserving our natural resources. In 2023, through our Environmental Sustainability focus area, we awarded $750,000 to 64 nonprofit organizations. In addition to directly supporting these organizations, the investments will result in the planting of 59,000 trees, offsetting 41,000 tons of carbon emissions. From the Mississippi Valley Conservancy in Wisconsin and Great River Greening in Minnesota to HawkQuest in Colorado, the nonprofits span across our service footprint, helping to conserve and protect a diverse geography of natural resources, native habitats and species.
Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute 
As one of over 40 companies and organizations that support and partner with Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute, our funding and partnership encourages the organization’s broader research on mitigating environmental challenges at wind and solar energy projects. We also support the organization’s technology and research studies to help improve monitoring and avoid or minimize impacts to birds, bats and other wildlife at wind and solar sites. This includes projects such as evaluating the impacts wind farm projects have on the displacement of lesser prairie chicken populations; evaluating the effect of wind turbine size on bird and bat mortalities; and understanding wildlife abundance and the use of utility-scale solar facilities in agricultural environments. 
Bird cams and nesting boxes 
With the 1989 installation of a peregrine falcon nest box at the Allen S. King plant, near Bayport, Minnesota, we were the first power company in the world to host birds of prey, according to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project. With RRP’s help, Xcel Energy installed webcams that have broadcast live nests since 1997 from plant locations in Colorado and Minnesota. 
At the bald eagles’ nest at our Fort St. Vrain plant in Platteville, Colorado, two solar-powered cameras allow viewers to observe the nest activities – in real time – such as the parents keeping the eggs and eaglets warm, bringing home prey and fending off intruders. Since we installed cameras at this location in 2003, 48 eaglets have fledged here.   
Bird programs like ours were key to the peregrine falcon’s survival, thanks in part to nest boxes at eight of our power plants including High Bridge, Allen S. King, Sherburne County and Riverside plants. Through 2023, 444 peregrines have been born at Xcel Energy facilities since our nesting program began. 
Pollinator habitats 
We support and initiate projects that make a difference in the survival of pollinators, such as the monarch butterfly, rusty-patched bumblebee and Karner blue butterfly. Our approximately 50 active pollinator sites range in size from less than one acre to almost 800 acres, covering 2,300 acres of habitat (2,212 in MN/WI and 88 in CO) at company properties, such under transmission lines and around substations, generating plants, office buildings, community solar gardens and wind projects. We have partnered with over a dozen communities in MN and WI on projects, as well as with federal and state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and private landowners. 
In our vegetation management practices for controlling brush, trees and weeds, Xcel Energy and our contractors do not use chemicals that are harmful to beneficial insects on our rights of way and properties. We have eliminated the use of neonicotinoids, which potentially impact bee populations. 
For more on how we're making progress toward a more sustainable future, check out our Environmental Leadership stories on Between the Lines.