Energy efficiency helps Xcel avoid building new power plants

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Xcel Energy is being recognized by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance for the vision and ingenuity of two of the utility's consumer programs.

With electrical devices such as computers and printers contributing to almost 20 percent of a facility's electric expenses, Xcel Energy's Computer Efficiency program has played a major role in encouraging computer manufacturers such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard to design and manufacture more energy-efficient computers.

"We saw this as an opportunity to explore a new market for energy savings and reduce costs in a big way for our customers," said Jon Packer, Xcel Energy product manager.

Program participation grew 33 percent in 2011 and is expected to have grown 25 percent in 2012. To date, the program has saved a total of nearly 33 million kilowatt hours.

Xcel Energy has also introduced rebates for customers who use virtual desktops, which can use as much as 75 percent less energy than a traditional desktop computer.

"Xcel Energy's Computer Efficiency Program has had an outsized effect on the PC market using a potent combination of manufacturer incentives and customer education and rebates," said Jay Wrobel, MEEA executive director.

Xcel Energy's Kilowatt Crackdown, a year-long challenge to office building owners to improve their facility's energy efficiency, is also being recognized by MEEA. With the help of energy-use benchmarking provided by Xcel, challenge participants saved more than 13 gigawatt hours of electricity.

These energy-efficiency efforts have avoided the need to build 10 power plants, according to the utility.

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