Member Spotlight: Get to Know Alice Jackson, President of Xcel Energy – Colorado
Alice has hit the ground running in her new position as president of Xcel Energy – Colorado. Her knowledge and passion for not only the utility industry but also her employees and customers are surely something to talk about. Learn more about Alice’s passion and purpose below.
How does Xcel Energy encourage civic engagement and city building among its employees and through its work?
Quite literally, “We physically helped build this city!” says Alice. “From the power grid to the street lights, Xcel Energy has played a major role in Denver as well as across the U.S.”
But, Xcel Energy’s reach goes beyond the physical.
Xcel Energy’s products, programs and services are essential to the local economies in which they operate. Its success is tied to each community’s success. “We recognize that energy is a foundational building block for economic development, including jobs. More and more businesses are concerned about sustainability,” Alice says. “By leading the clean energy transition, we put communities at the forefront of being able to attract businesses and grow the job base.”
Civic engagement is a part of the company culture – in a huge way. Each employee can use 40 hours of Volunteer Paid Time Off to give back to his or her community. The company encourages employees to volunteer for local nonprofit organizations, represent Xcel Energy on nonprofit and community boards, and engage in public policy.
Nine years ago, Xcel Energy Day of Service launched and has grown to nearly 4,000 Coloradoans volunteering on the same day. With close to 80 projects, volunteers partake in a variety of activities, including making baby blankets, showing girls what a career in STEM is like, and serving meals.
In 2018, almost $1 million of time and more than 37,700 actual hours were spent bettering communities across Colorado.
This investment of time is in addition to the remarkable financial investments Xcel Energy makes to nonprofit and economic development organizations statewide.
What ideas guide your work?
Alice is new to her role but has been living the values of Xcel Energy for some time. It is evident in her bringing her four boys and husband on her many volunteering opportunities and her dedication of a carbon-free future. Every decision Alice makes is based on three shared principles that prioritize communities, the environment, and the well-being of Xcel’s employees and customers:
- Lead the clean energy transition.
- Keep bills low for customers.
- Improve customers’ experience.
What are Xcel Energy’s goals for building a carbon-free future?
In 2004, residents of Colorado voted to put in place a renewable energy portfolio standard. Over time, Xcel Energy has surpassed Colorado’s standards. “Now, we are beyond those and looking further into the future than you can ever imagine,” says Alice. By 2026, the utility will reach 55% renewable energy on the power grid. This is not the highest in the country, but the highest in the world. Also, in the next eight years, Xcel Energy will reduce carbon emissions by 60% from 2005 levels.
Alice and her colleagues won’t stop there. Xcel Energy has announced an ambitious vision to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to its customers by 2050.
There is still a great amount of work that needs to be done and technology that needs to scale, but Alice is positive supply and demand will work its magic and these goals will be achieved.
Speaking of the future, how will Xcel Energy play a role in alternative transportation, specifically electric vehicles?
Currently, the auto industry is the highest emitter of carbon in the country. However, creating an environment where individual electric vehicles and electric transit fleets is the norm may be in our near future, and cities can look to Xcel Energy for help. “For every vehicle that we assist in getting off the road, the emission goes from 5 tons of carbon to 2 tons of carbon per year,” says Alice.
Figuring out what that looks like is an ongoing conversation for Alice. Currently, under Colorado state law, the utility is not allowed to own any of the end-user charging infrastructure. Instead of this being a hindrance, Alice is working with policy makers to change this legislation and make charging stations accessible to all. Par for the course, Alice is not waiting for legislation to change. Instead, she is proactively working closely with our mountain towns to electrify the shuttle buses and further push the clean energy transition.
As a leader in our community, how do you build a strong relationship with policy makers?
“You can’t legislate physics!” claims Alice. The bottom line is electricity is life-essential these days. Therefore, Xcel Energy’s voice is a powerful one and must advocate for its end users and the environment.
For example, by partnering with stakeholders and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, the company is advancing Colorado’s clean energy future through their Colorado Energy Plan. It will develop a significantly cleaner energy mix and reduce carbon emissions. Alice is confident plans like this lead to better legislation, while ensuring reliability, and keeping bills low for customers.
What are you most excited about?
Alice’s answer is two-fold:
Just recently Xcel Energy and the City and County of Denver announced 44,000 streetlights across Denver will be converted to Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs – considered one of today’s most energy-efficient and durable lighting technologies.
“Xcel Energy is honored to be a partner in the process of improving public safety and sustainability efforts in Denver. We know, through national research and with similar upgrades in other metropolitan communities in which we serve, that LED streetlights play a significant role in reducing neighborhood crime and improving night-time driving conditions. And, they are good for the environment.” Denver is one of several cities across the state that has converted to LED street lights over the past 10 years.
Secondly, with enthusiasm, Alice gloats about how lucky she is to be a leader in an industry that serves all people. Not only is Alice proud of the visionary steps Xcel Energy has taken to lead the clean energy transition, but also she is inspired by her employees who continually give their time, talent, and treasure to not only benefit the company but more importantly the community. Her goal is to retire from a utility company knowing her work will continue to positively affect all of us and the generations to come.
Thank you Alice for your thoughtful city-building and leadership in our community!