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News Release: NREL, Xcel Energy Sign Photovoltaic Development Agreement

Sept. 29, 2005

Denver, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) announced a first-of-a-kind agreement today to develop software to evaluate siting options for off-grid and grid-connected, commercial rooftop solar electricity systems in Colorado.

The partnership between the two organizations was developed through Xcel Energy's Utility Innovations (UI) Program. The UI Program is a visionary project that leverages partnership and collaboration to drive innovation that will change the way utilities serve their customers. In April of this year, NREL approached Xcel Energy about its interest in partnering on this project by combining NREL's renewable energy expertise with Xcel Energy's expertise in transmission, distribution and energy usage.

Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility, estimates that it will need 18 megawatts of solar power in place by 2007—at least half of which must come from on-site, customer-owned generation facilities—to meet the solar component mandate for renewable energy in Colorado.

Statewide standards for the installation of photovoltaic systems must be in place by the end of March 2006, although Xcel Energy is working to complete this regulatory process by the end of this year. The NREL agreement will provide Xcel Energy and the public at large an innovative new tool to assist in the siting of commercial rooftop solar generation facilities by bringing to the marketplace the expertise of the Golden-based energy laboratory.

"This partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory demonstrates our continued commitment to create opportunities for the development and growth of renewable energy for our customers in Colorado, as well as the rest of our service territory," said Richard C. Kelly, Xcel Energy president and chief executive officer. "We look forward to a tight collaboration with NREL, merging their recognized expertise with Xcel Energy's drive for innovation to create new capabilities for solar siting in our service territory—and beyond."

"We are proud to be a partner with Xcel Energy, one of the nation's most progressive utilities, on this effort that promises to accelerate deployment of solar electricity into the marketplace. The Laboratory is particularly pleased to put its world-class services to work in our own backyard," said NREL Director Dan Arvizu.

This project will utilize NREL's Renewable Planning Model (RPM). The software will link NREL and Xcel Energy's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data to map the utility company's facilities, loads and consumption. This GIS data will be overlaid on top of the NREL's GIS data for solar resources, land ownership, land usage and satellite images.

The model will also access several of NREL's cutting-edge energy production models to determine cost-effective technologies, preferred locations and correspondence to local usage patterns. It is expected that, following the successful development of this software, models will be developed to evaluate other renewable energies, including wind and other solar applications.

Xcel Energy plans on investing more than $250,000 in this project.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy, and energy-efficiency research and development. Midwest Research Institute and Battelle operate NREL for DOE. Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company, with operations in 10 Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. In terms of customers, it is the fourth-largest combination natural gas and electricity company in the nation. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis.

—Sarah Barba