updated 11/13/2006 3:57:27 PM ET 2006-11-13T20:57:27

Xcel Energy, once locked in a fight with Colorado environmentalists over renewable energy, now advocates mandatory standards for reducing greenhouse gasses, the CEO and president of the state's largest utility said Friday.

Richard Kelly said the Minneapolis-based utility has been talking to politicians and other utilities for a while about a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which are believed to be contributing to global warming.

"This has been something I personally feel very strong about. I was born and raised in Colorado, it's where I'll retire. This is where my kids are, this is where my grandkids are, it's the right thing to do," Kelly said.

International scientists recently have been advocating a tax on carbon emissions to reduce so-called greenhouse gases. Kelly favors an approach that provides a tax credit for companies when they use clean technology, but he acknowledges that might not be the plan that gets through.

"We'll live with whatever it is, we're more into action," Kelly said. "We really want to get something started."

In another marked change from two years ago when Xcel and other utilities spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to fight a voter approved initiative requiring energy companies get more power from renewable sources, Kelly made his remarks before and during Western Resource Advocate's annual meeting.

"In years past, it might have been, `What do they want?' What might happen to me?'" Kelly said in prepared remarks about his invitation to speak before the environmental group.

Kelly said even though they fought Amendment 37, they were dedicated to renewable energy but thought the requirements in the initiative would cost their customers too much.

He credited Western Resource Advocates and other environmental groups with working with Excel and state regulators to improve the language of the statute.

Early last month, environmental groups joined in Xcel in its announcement that the company would meet most of the requirements of the initiative by next year. Kelly on Friday said Xcel would meet all of the requirements.

The law, the first of its kind passed by voters in the country when passed in 2004, requires the state's largest utilities get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, by 2015.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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