Xcel Energy commits to 100 percent increase in electricity rates (and then some)

Yesterday, Xcel Energy announced it is committing to go 100 percent “carbon free” by the year 2050 across the eight Western and Midwestern states where the monopoly utility operates. Unfortunately, Xcel’s ratepayers will see a 100 percent increase in electricity rates, and then some.

American Experiment has detailed how spending $15 billion on wind has caused Minnesota families to see their electricity bill increase 58 percent since our state started building wind turbines in 2005. The graph below shows major spikes occurring after politicians passed a law mandating the state generate 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Despite the state’s massive investment in wind and solar farms, at the behest of Xcel Energy, carbon dioxide emissions haven’t fallen very much. In fact, the 25 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels would have been much higher if our state had built more natural gas and nuclear plants, rather than squander money on intermittent, unreliable sources of electricity like wind and solar that require coal or natural gas back-up to generate electricity when the weather does not cooperate.

The graphic below is a screenshot from the app electricityMap, which shows what sources of power generation are currently providing us with the electricity we rely upon, and the carbon dioxide emissions associated with that electricity. What a surprise! The largest portion of low-carbon electricity is good old nuclear power, and the wind is hardly blowing.

In Xcel’s defense, they said this was a “carbon free” goal, not a renewable energy goal, and the company has mentioned they see nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration as possible avenues for reaching zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

But let’s not be too generous to Xcel, after all, the utility has a long history of greenplating the grid with investments in wind and solar, and actively lobbied for the highest-possible social cost of carbon cost in Minnesota in utility planning. All of these moves have resulted in enormous profits for their shareholders at the expense of everyone else.

Some people may be inclined to think “Well, Xcel is a private company and they can do what they want,” and I would be amenable to this argument if it were actually true, but Xcel is not really a private company, it is a government-mandated monopoly utility company.

Customers cannot simply choose another provider if they are unhappy with the service, they are stuck with Xcel. But maybe it is time to change Xcel’s monopoly status and introduce competitive markets in Minnesota.

Xcel’s commitment to boosting it’s bottom line, erm, I mean, boosting carbon free energy, may curry favor with the environmental community and its shareholders, but it will impose serious hardships on low-income families, seniors, farmers, manufacturers, and miners who will see at least a 100 percent increase in their electric rates.