There’s a good question to which ratepayers will never get an answer because Xcel Energy is an investor owned utility (IOU) that enjoys a government-sanctioned monopoly on providing electric service to roughly 1.4 million Colorado ratepayers. Because it is not a state agency, Colorado’s largest electricity provider is not subject to the state’s open record law.
I only ask the question because of the two marketing examples below. Regardless of how an Xcel customer feels about the campaigns, Xcel is allowed to pass the costs to ratepayers who have no choice but to pay for them through their utility rates.
The first went to Xcel customers in Boulder in 2010:
This personalized circular designed to shame ratepayers came to some Denver metro customers:
The shaming circular is flat out hypocritical because Xcel WANTS customers to use more energy. The more customers use, the more the company makes. (For more details on the economics of IOUs click here) Regulators rather than markets determine the price of energy so Xcel has no incentive to keep rates low. Thus the costs associated with ridiculous marketing materials designed to make Xcel look like a good steward of the environment are passed along to ratepayers who have no recourse other than to keep paying their electric bills.
The New Energy Economy has been very good to Xcel Energy. In the words of Xcel Energy CEO Dick Kelly in most recent annual report:
With good results in every category, Xcel Energy had an outstanding year in 2010. We achieved our financial goals and, in fact, have met or exceeded our earnings target six years in a row….In addition to growing earnings, we’ve consistently increased your annual dividend in the 2 to 4 percent range, raising it 3 percent in 2010. And Xcel Energy outperformed our peer group of regulated utilities for the third consecutive year. Taking into account the reinvestment of our dividends, we delivered a total return of more than 16 percent in 2010.
No wonder Xcel likes Colorado so much.