Next to gold, one of the safest investments in a sluggish economy is a good utility. Oxymoron? Maybe. But Xcel Energy is doing their part to clean up the image of electric utilities by becoming the biggest producer of wind power in the United States.
Recently named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America for the second year in a row, Minneapolis based Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), gave itself a pat on the back recently for its environmental efforts over the past year. Despite the company's original hesitance with renewable energy standards in Minnesota and Colorado, it wisely changed course and repositioned itself as one of the greenest investor-owned utilities in the U.S. Xcel is the United States' largest windpower provider. By 2020, Xcel expects to supply 30 percent of its customer's electricity needs with renewable resources.
Even though Xcel is known for its aggressive development of wind, it has not shied away from developing other renewable projects, as evidenced by the 22 Minnesota projects that will receive nearly $23 million from its Minnesota Renewable Development Fund. Interesting projects in the works across the company's eight-state service area include a Colorado biomass plant that uses pine bark beetle tree waste to produce more than 4 megawatts of power; a 3 megawatt cogeneration plant in Minnesota utilizing methane produced as a byproduct of sugar beet processing; and an 8.2 megawatt Solar Plant in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.