Retiring Utility Exec: Climate Science “Pretty solid – I’d be OK if there were never any more coal.”

August 24, 2011

 Minnesota Post:

In a week, Dick Kelly will leave Minneapolis and find something to do in Colorado. He will retire as the CEO of Xcel Energy. What will he do?

“I’ve had enough of utilities,” he told me. “I’d like to try something different.”

He deserves a break. He has been working in electricity generation most of his life. On the way to becoming the CEO of one of the most respected electric utility companies in the United States, he walked around with a clipboard and read meters in thousands of backyards. Meter-reader to CEO. It has given Dick Kelly perspective.

The kind of perspective Kelly possesses is not seen very often in his business. Dick Kelly believes the facts are in on global warming.

Real Aspen:

“I’d be OK if there were never any more coal,” retiring Xcel Energy CEO Dick Kelly recently told the non-profit news site

Kelly, who’s apparently moving from Minnesota (where Xcel is based) to Colorado (where Xcel is the state’s largest electric utility), went on to question those in Congress denying the science behind global climate change and the need to move away from fossil fuels.

“I think the science is pretty solid. Maybe we haven’t communicated it well enough,” Kelly said. “But I think people do believe we need a change in the way we generate and use electricity. We’ve got to get off fossil fuels. The quicker the better.”

Counters MinnPost interviewer Don Shelby: “But, there are a lot of people in Congress who wouldn’t agree.” That pretty much describes the four Republicans who make up Colorado’s GOP majority in the House.

Kelly responds: “I know it. All they are worried about is the next two or six years when they run for reelection. They just keep kicking the can down the road.”

It’s important to keep in mind that there are thoughtful people that work at Utility companies.  I’ve been invited several times to discuss issues of climate and renewables with executives and employees of one of Michigan’s largest electric companies.  Many of these folks get it that we are in trouble, and they’d like to be part of the solution, if we can work with them to change the rules – to make it easier to do the right thing.

We need to keep in mind that these folks have a big responsibility — making sure that the lights go  on when you and I hit the switch. It’s not optional in our interconnected society – people’s lives and livelihoods depend on it. So we want these folks to succeed.

My take is, they will not be able to succeed by pursuing the policies that suited the 20th century. So our job is to push, cajole, persuade, and enable them to come into the renewable revolution of the 21st.

The last thing we need is for more of our flagship corporations, our biggest employers, to be belly up on the ropes – and that’s where continued reliance on large central thermal generating stations will take them.

The goal of this blog and video series is to shine enough light on the path ahead so as to make it obvious to everyone what the right way is.

4 Responses to “Retiring Utility Exec: Climate Science “Pretty solid – I’d be OK if there were never any more coal.””

  1. BlueRock Says:

    A different take on Kelly:

    * Xcel Energy CEO Bemoans Climate-Denying Politicians Funded By Xcel.

  2. otter17 Says:

    Cool video.

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  4. […] Retiring Utility Exec: Climate Science “Pretty solid – I’d be OK if there were never any more … […]

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