Coal, Hydroelectric

Xcel expects variety of issues to come up at annual shareholders’ meeting

21 May 2004 – Rising prices, rising executive pay, frequent outages and Indian rights are some of the topics that could come up today at Xcel Energy’s shareholders meeting in Denver, a company spokesman said.

The Minneapolis-based utility swaps cities for its annual meetings, and this year it is Denver’s turn. The major item on the proxy ballot is a shareholder proposal to switch from three-year to one-year board terms.

“There was no problem with any of the directors,” spokesman Mark Stutz said. “It’s an initiative that’s been going on nationally. Our shareholders picked up on it and passed a resolution asking us to do it, and we agreed.”

Question-and-answer periods following the regular meeting often provide a platform for various shareholder activists, Stutz said.

Members of a band of Cree Indians from Manitoba typically attend to complain about the flooding of their land for hydro plants by the provincial government in the 1960s and ’70s.

Xcel buys power from Manitoba Hydro in the summer and sells it to Manitoba Hydro in the winter.

“Their issue really is more with Manitoba Hydro than with us, but because we have the contract and we have this forum going on, they tend to come to us,” Stutz said.

Xcel raised electricity rates in Colorado this year by 2.3 per cent, adding just over $1 to the typical home bill, Stutz said.

Meanwhile the company is under state regulators’ microscope as it struggles to improve reliability around Denver. Xcel has promised millions of dollars in upgraded equipment and service in an effort to fend off state intervention.

Xcel disposed of a money-losing subsidiary in bankruptcy court and saw its stock price triple in the past year, leading the board to reward top executives, Stutz said.