In December, Xcel Energy announced plans to serve all their customers with zero-carbon electricity by 2050, becoming the first public utility in the nation to do so. If that seems a long way off, Xcel is already providing 35 percent of its energy through renewables sources such as wind and solar energy as this technology is now affordable. They plan to have 85 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2030.

Scientific reports the past year show climate change is happening faster than anticipated. In November, the federal government released its "National Climate Assessment" that states the average temperature in the U.S. has increased by 1.3 degrees to 1.9 degrees since 1895 with most of it happening since 1970. The warming is primarily due to human-produced emissions caused mainly from burning coal, oil and gas. Temperatures are projected to rise another 2 degrees to 4 degrees in most areas of the U.S. over the next few decades with alarming impacts to our nation.

As a producer of hydro-electricity the past 30 years, the city of Hastings has helped Minnesota already achieve its goal to produce at least 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Furthermore, the city is currently participating in Xcel Energy's "Partners in Energy" program where plans are being made to educate local business and residents on energy-related savings and clean energy options. Not to mention, the Hastings School District is moving ahead with a large solar subscription with the intent to save taxpayers money while doing what's right for our environment.

As a local leader, I personally would like to thank Xcel Energy for making these investments and contributing to a jobs rich industry in our state that helps our community thrive. We all have a role to play in combating climate change. I am looking forward to accelerating progress in our community by partnering with Xcel Energy and other local groups interested. Please feel free to contact me if your interested in learning more about getting involved at tfolch@hastingsmn.gov or 651-304-0652.