Robert C. Frenzel
President, Chief Operating Officer & Director at Xcel Energy
Thank you, Paul, and good morning, everybody. Before we dive into quarterly results, I just want to take a few minutes to recognize Ben and thank him for his leadership. He's been a leader at Xcel Energy for two decades as Treasurer, CFO, President and Chief Operating Officer, and then CEO and Chairman of the Board. And since he assumed the CEO role in 2011, we've been a national leader in reliability, customer service and safety, all hallmarks of excellent utility operations, and our operational performance has improved over that period. For example, we transformed our nuclear plants into one of the top-ranked fleets in the nation, while lowering our cost structure by 20%. And under Ben's leadership, we delivered for the environment, became a national leader in wind energy and highlighted by our steel for fuel strategy. We've tripled our total wind capacity from 3,400 megawatts to over 10,000 megawatts and our owned wind growing from 300 megawatts to more than 4,000 megawatts. We've significantly reduced the level of coal in our fuel mix from 50% to 21%, and we reduced our carbon emissions by 51% compared to our 2005 baseline. We were the first major U.S. utility to establish 100% carbon-free goal while remaining a stalwart champion for reliability and affordability. We've delivered excellence for our financial stakeholders as well. We've tripled Xcel Energy's market cap from $12 billion to $37 billion, and our stock prices increased from $24 per share to almost $70 per share, reflecting a TSR of 300% and outpacing our peer group. We've met or exceeded our earnings guidance every year and increased our dividend in line with our earnings growth. And beyond Xcel Energy, Ben's recently served as Chairman of EEI, leading through pandemic uncertainties, driving focus on the need for increased levels of research and development for new technologies and inspiring his peers to define diversity and inclusion priorities for their organizations. He's had a tremendous run as CEO and will leave a lasting legacy at Xcel Energy, for the utility industry, and I would go so far as to say for the country. So thank you, Ben. And congratulations on your upcoming retirement in August. I look forward to your continued leadership at the Board level and partnering with you on important federal policy efforts related to infrastructure and clean energy. Looking ahead, and I'm honored with the opportunity to lead this great company, and I recognize the Lebron James-sized shoes that I'm filling. Since joining Xcel Energy five years ago, Ben and I have worked closely on the development and the execution of our strategy, and that will not change. We'll continue to lead the clean energy transition, enhance our customers' experience and will constantly work to keep our customers bill low and deliver an affordable product. We've had a fantastic leadership team and significant bench strength, and I'm confident in our ability to capitalize on the growth opportunities in front of us while maintaining our commitment to reliability and affordability. I'm excited about our growth opportunities over the next decade, driven by our generation resource plans, transmission expansion, distribution investments and our electric vehicle vision. As we move forward, innovation is more critical than ever as we prepare to move from 80% carbon reduction by 2030 to 100% carbon-free electricity. I'll be focused on clean technologies in both our electric and our natural gas businesses as well as how we engage with customers in new ways through a more flexible grid. I also expect innovative work practices will continue to drive efficiency and produce strong operational results. And safety is another area where I plan to help drive innovation. As one of our core values, safety is already a priority, but we can do even better. I want us to move beyond traditional metrics and embrace a heightened focus on prevention and culture change, eliminating the most serious events by encouraging trust, transparency and learning. In the coming months, I look forward to continued engagement with our customers, our communities, our regulators, our investors and of course, our workforce. We have the best employees in the business, and I'm proud of what we've accomplished, and I'm excited for the future successes that we'll achieve together. And to our investors, we appreciate the trust that you place in us, and we'll continue to be good stewards of your investments. Now turning to the quarter. Today, we reported solid quarterly earnings of $0.58 per share compared to $0.54 per share last year. We're off to a good start, and we are reaffirming our 2021 guidance. We made significant progress on various regulatory initiatives, including three constructive rate case settlements that Brian will discuss in more detail. In addition, we've advanced our plans for adding incremental renewables. In Wisconsin, the commission approved our proposal for the 74-megawatt Mustang solar project for $100 million, which will be the largest solar facility in Western Wisconsin. In June, the Minnesota Commission approved our proposal to buy out a repowered 120-megawatt wind farm PPA for $210 million from ALLETE. This repowered project will save our customers money while extending the life of a renewable energy resource. And the Minnesota Commission continues to evaluate our $575 million proposal to build a 460-megawatt solar facility, takes advantage of existing transmission as we phase out of coal. We are confident the commission will see the customer and economic benefits and expect a decision later this year or early in Q1 of next year. Additionally, as part of our continued commitment to foster a skilled and diverse workforce, we proposed a training program in Minnesota to help those in underrepresented communities develop the skills to succeed in energy-related construction careers. Program graduates will have the opportunity to be considered for participation in our Sherco solar proposal and other future projects. In June, we filed an alternative Minnesota resource plan, which achieves an 85% carbon reduction by 2030. This proposal addresses the concerns of various parties by removing the Sherco combined cycle from consideration and replacing it with two combustion turbines. The key components of the revised plan include an early retirement of both the King and the Sherco three coal units in 2028 and 2030, respectively; a life extension for our Monticello nuclear plant; construction of new transmission lines in order to take advantage of the interconnection rights from the retiring coal units; and the addition of 3,150 megawatts of universal solar, 2,650 megawatts of wind, 800 megawatts of new hydrogen-ready CTs and 300 megawatts of repowered blackstart CTs, 1,900 megawatts of flexible peaking resources and 250 megawatts of new storage. We've provided the commission with an outstanding resource plan that will reduce carbon while maintaining reliability and customer affordability. We expect a decision on the Minnesota resource plan later this year or early next. In addition, we continue to make good progress and are in the discovery phase of the Colorado resource plan and associated transmission power pathway project. We expect the commission decision on both proposals in early 2022. And between Minnesota and Colorado resource plans, we anticipate adding nearly 10,000 megawatts of new renewables to our system to meet our 80% carbon reduction goal by 2030. With that, I'll turn it over to Brian.