Activists Pull Elaborate ‘Fossil Fools Day’ Prank on Xcel Energy

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal

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Fossil Fool’s Day actions all over the world. Here’s one from Denver

Spoof Website, Press Release and Letter Announce that Xcel Will Completely Abandon Fossil Fuels

April 1, 2010
Denver, CO – On April Fools’ Day – as part of the international ‘Fossil Fools Day’ – Colorado activists pulled an elaborate prank on Xcel Energy, the largest utility company in the state. With a farce website (www.xcelresponsiblebynature.com), a satirical press release, and a letter to Colorado ratepayers, activists helped Xcel Energy become a renewable energy leader. The announcement said that Xcel Energy would switch to 100% renewable electricity in Colorado by phasing out all coal plants and abandoning plans to convert existing coal plants to natural gas.

In the spoof initiative, Xcel Energy agreed to pay for the transition to renewable energy out of its own deep pockets. The letter assured Colorado ratepayers: “While, over the past several years, we have raised rates for our customers numerous times, our new approach will put the burden on Xcel’s executives rather than our loyal and hardworking customers. And, rest assured, we can afford it. With an annual profit of nearly $700 million and CEO pay in the millions each year, our ‘responsible by nature’ executives are volunteering to take pay cuts to ensure the success of our plan.”

The press release was sent to a wide variety of media outlets, including business and financial journals around the country. In addition, the press release was sent to politicians and public agencies throughout Colorado, as well as to to various fossil fools, including coal and gas companies and lobby groups such as Americans for Clean Coal Electricity, to remind them which way the wind is blowing.

Beyond that, activists throughout the state distributed thousands of copies of a “letter from Xcel” to ratepayers and renewable energy companies, who were encouraged to email Xcel Energy’s Board of Directors to thank them for their “bold renewable energy proposal.”

The press release was sent out by “Simon Grunwasch.” Grunwasch is German for “greenwash,” indicating that Xcel Energy is masking its environmentally destructive reliance on fossil fuels behind a public image that emphasizes renewable energy. Currently, 90% of the company’s electricity in Colorado is generated by fossil fuels and only 10% from renewable sources. However, this is not for a lack of wind, solar and geothermal capacity. Xcel has received 15,000MW of bids for renewable energy projects – more than double its peak demand – but has only accepted a small fraction.

Though the company has recently announced its support of legislation that would retire or modify three Front Range coal plants by 2017, it is simultaneously opening the Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant in Pueblo – the largest coal plant in the state. The lifetime emissions from operating Comanche 3 will overwhelm any savings from retiring Front Range coal plants a few years early. Worse still, these coal plants could be replaced with natural gas, which still emits roughly 60% as much CO2 as coal, in addition to methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas.

“While this spoof announcement is unfortunately nothing more than an April Fools’ Day joke, it is an honest representation of what Xcel Energy needs to do,” said ‘Simon Grunwasch.’ “Xcel Energy needs to stop raising rates on Coloradans to pay for new coal plants, expensive natural gas and perks for their executives. Instead, they need to invest their vast resources in renewable energy for Colorado.”

More information about Fossil Fools Day is available at: fossilfoolsday.org
Wish it were true? Contact Xcel Energy’s Board of Directors at: boardofdirectors@xcelenergy.com
The spoof website can be viewed at: www.xcelresponsiblebynature.com

A fully copy of the spoof letter and press release are available at: www.xcelresponsiblebynature.com

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