Environmental Leadership
September 27, 2017

Celebrating a cleaner kilowatt hour

Reducing carbon emissions with reliable, affordable energy

The kilowatt hour you use today isn’t the same as yesterday. When you flip the switch, the electricity you consume is about one-third cleaner than it was a dozen years ago, and it’s going to be even cleaner in the future.

We’ve been steadily transforming how we produce, deliver and encourage the efficient use of energy, and doing it while providing service that is reliable and affordable. Since 2005, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint 30 percent and aspire to do even more as we work toward a 60 percent reduction target by 2030. Here’s how technology and other improvements are producing a better kilowatt hour for you.

A Cleaner Kilowatt Hour: Our company-wide progress reducing carbon emissions while providing customers with reliable, affordable energy.

Clean wind and solar power

Increasing the use of cost-effective wind and solar power is the number one way we are transforming your energy. In 2016, we had triple the renewable energy on our system compared to 2005—mostly wind energy. We just proposed a new 300-megawatt project in South Dakota, Dakota Range, which increases our industry-leading wind plans to 13 new wind farms in seven states and boosts our current wind capacity by 55 percent. Dakota Range is significant because it’s the first publicly announced project to move forward under the phase down of federal tax credits. More simply put—even without the full tax incentives, the project is a great value and will help keep customer energy bills affordable in the future.

Back in 2005, wind supplied only 3 percent of our energy. There were concerns around cost and reliability, but as turbine technology improved, prices declined and advanced forecasting made wind power more dependable. Today we rely more on wind energy and less on natural gas and coal when steady winds are predicted, which saves fuel and emissions. We estimate advanced forecasting has saved our customers more than $66 million in fuel costs since 2009 and has produced some impressive wind records on our system—records that were once considered impossible. For example, last March wind generation supplied more than 68 percent of our customers’ power in Colorado for an entire hour.

Thank you for using energy efficiently

If you have ever used our energy rebate or efficiency programs— by installing a high-efficiency furnace or LED lightbulbs for example— you’ve supported the cleaner kilowatt hour. We offer more than 150 energy-saving programs that help customers manage their monthly bills while also reducing emissions. Last year our customers saved more than a billion kilowatt hours of electricity. To put that in perspective, we estimate this energy savings has helped us avoid the need to build 18 power plants. Not only does this prevent carbon emissions, it saves customers money, as well the land, water and the other resources those plants would require.

We also offer a number of voluntary renewable programs that vary by state—options that enable our customers to power their lives with up to 100 percent carbon-free energy.

A changing energy supply

Our fleet of conventional plants is becoming more flexible, efficient and cleaner. Since 2005, we’ve retired one-third of our coal units and have plans to do even more. We’ve replaced some coal units with natural gas plants, which have less than half the carbon emissions and operate more efficiently with renewables. We also upgraded one of our two nuclear plants to generate more carbon-free kilowatt hours.

Producing a cleaner kilowatt hour is a collective effort. We’re achieving affordable, reliable and clean energy through multiple solutions and with your help. You can learn more about our clean energy plans, commitment to renewable sources and customer efficiency programs in our annual Corporate Responsibility Report.