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Edited Transcript of XEL earnings conference call or presentation 7-May-20 2:00pm GMT

Q1 2020 Xcel Energy Inc Earnings Call

MINNEAPOLIS May 25, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Xcel Energy Inc earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 2:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke

Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO

* Brian J. Van Abel

Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO

* Paul Andrew Johnson

Xcel Energy Inc. - VP & IR

* Robert C. Frenzel

Xcel Energy Inc. - President & COO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Alex Morgan

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Analyst

* David Christian Peters

Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst

* Jeremy Bryan Tonet

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst

* Sophie Ksenia Karp

KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Senior Analyst of Electric Utilities & Power

* Stephen Calder Byrd

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD and Head of North American Research for the Power & Utilities and Clean Energy

* Travis Miller

Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Xcel Energy First Quarter 2020 Earnings Conference Call. Questions will be taken from institutional investors. (Operator Instructions) Thank you. Today's conference is being recorded.

At this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to Paul Johnson, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

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Paul Andrew Johnson, Xcel Energy Inc. - VP & IR [2]

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Thank you. Good morning, and welcome to Xcel Energy's 2020 First Quarter Earnings Conference Call.

Joining me today are Ben Fowke, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer; Bob Frenzel, President and Chief Operating Officer; and Brian Van Able, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

This morning, we will review our 2020 first quarter results, share business developments and regulatory developments, discuss how we're managing through uncertainty around coronavirus. There's an expanded list of slides today that accompany our call on our website.

As a reminder, some of the comments during today's conference call may contain forward-looking information. Significant factors that could cause results to differ from those anticipated are designated in our earnings release and in our filings with the SEC.

On today's call, we will discuss certain metrics that are non-GAAP measures, including ongoing earnings in electric and natural gas margins. Information on the comparable GAAP measures and reconciliations are included in our earnings release.

I'll now turn the call over to Ben.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [3]

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Well, thank you, Paul, and good morning, everyone. As I report back on the past few months, my heart really goes out to the individuals and families impacted by the coronavirus, the devoted health care professionals so bravely serving our communities and the business communities and local businesses. I'm so pleased with how our employees and industry have responded during this unprecedented time, working to keep people safe, delivering reliable service to customers and providing support to those in need as we've done for over 100 years. I also want to thank our employees for their dedication, spirit and creativity in finding ways to support our communities and stimulate local economic growth.

Now turning to the quarter. We've gotten off to a solid start, booking $0.56 per share for the first quarter of 2020 compared with $0.61 per share last year. We believe we can take actions that will allow us to weather the impact of COVID-19. And as a result, we are reaffirming our 2020 guidance. Brian will discuss the financial results in more detail.

At Xcel Energy, we're taking significant strides to help our customers and protect our employees, while continuing to deliver critical energy services. Some of our actions include we're committing to not disconnecting residential customer service and arranging payment plans if they're having difficulty paying their bills. In Minnesota, we are proposing to reduce our accrued fuel forecast by $25 million to give immediate relief to our customers. We stepped up our charitable giving and are helping our communities during this time of need, and we are working closely with our regulators and state and local leadership to identifying constructive solutions to support our communities and customers. We're keeping our employees safe by implementing work-from-home policies, providing personal protection equipment and following CDC's social distancing guidelines and enhancing cleaning practices, conducting temperature checks at critical facilities, segregating crews and staggering work times.

To ensure continued reliability, we've implemented business continuity plans, which allows us to prioritize work and are prepared to sequester critical employees on-site, if necessary.

From a financial standpoint, we've enhanced our liquidity and developed contingency plans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Finally, we expect to be part of the solution to help get the economy back on its feet by continuing to invest in our communities through our capital expenditure programs that create jobs and drive demand for equipment and supplies.

While this is a fluid situation with considerable uncertainty, Xcel Energy has always shown a remarkable dedication to serving our customers during difficult times, and this set of challenges is no exception.

Moving on to business developments. We recently announced the opportunistic sale of the Mankato natural gas plant for $680 million. You'll recall, we originally proposed this acquisition as a fully-regulated asset. However, when the Minnesota Commission rejected this proposal, we acquired Mankato as a nonregulated asset and stepped into the power purchase agreement. While we thought Mankato would provide significant long-term value, especially as we shut down coal assets, we heard from several investors that having a nonregulated asset cloud at the Xcel Energy story. As a result, when several potential buyers expressed interest in acquiring the plant, we decided to sell it and preserve our status as one of the very few fully-regulated pure-play utilities. And since the earnings were back-end loaded, we don't expect the sale to materially impact our earnings projections. And while it was not part of the rationale for the sale, the transaction will improve our liquidity in these uncertain times. We will use the proceeds to reduce funding needs and improve our credit metrics.

In addition, we will book a gain which we will use to fund charitable-giving efforts, including supporting COVID-19 relief efforts throughout our communities.

Finally, we recently announced some important promotions as part of our succession plan. Bob Frenzel was named President and Chief Operating Officer, and Brian Van Abel was named Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Bob has been our CFO for the past 4 years and has extensive experience in the industry prior to joining Xcel Energy, while Brian has had increasing roles in finance, including treasurer, financial planning and analysis and corporate development. Both Bob and Brian are extremely intelligent and talented employees who have been instrumental in developing and executing our strategy and delivering our consistently strong financial results. And while I don't plan to retire anytime soon, these promotions reflect the deep bench strength and thoughtful planning we have at Xcel Energy.

So with that, let me turn the call over to Brian, who will provide more detail on our financial results and outlook, along with our actions to mitigate coronavirus impacts. Brian?

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [4]

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Thanks, Ben, and good morning, everyone. We achieved solid results, recording $0.56 per share for the first quarter of 2020 compared to $0.61 per share last year. Majority of the quarterly deviation is driven by weather. We experienced a warmer-than-normal winter weather this year compared with cooler-than-normal weather last year, which results in a $0.04 per share unfavorable comparison. The most significant earnings drivers for the quarter include lower O&M expenses increased earnings by $0.03 per share. Our lower effective tax rate increased earnings by $0.03 per share. However, majority of the lower ETRs is due to an increase in production tax credits which flow back to customers through electric margin and tax reform impacts, both of which are largely earnings neutral.

Offsetting these positive drivers were lower margins due largely to unfavorable weather, which reduced earnings by $0.03 per share and which offset rises in regulatory outcomes. Increased depreciation and interest expense, reflecting our capital investment program, reduced earnings by $0.05 per share, and the other items combined decreased earnings by $0.03 per share.

Next, I want to discuss the potential impact of COVID-19 and the actions we are taking to mitigate a range of outcomes. Starting with sales, our first quarter weather and leap year adjusted electric sales declined by 1.1%, while natural gas sales increased by 0.4%. The coronavirus crisis had a minor impact on first quarter sales. The economic shutdown started in mid-March, so we did not experience the full monthly impact. For March, our total residential sales increased slightly, while C&I sales declined 4%, resulting in a total retail electric sales decline of 3% on a weather-adjusted basis.

However, a better reference point on the monthly COVID-19 impact is what we saw in our preliminary April numbers in which almost all of our states were under relatively strict shelter-in-place orders. Residential sales increased 3.2%, while C&I sales declined 13.7%, and total retail electric sales declined 9.6% on a weather-adjusted basis. And keep in mind, we have a sales true-up mechanism for all electric classes in Minnesota and decoupling for the electric residential and non-demand small C&I classes in Colorado. This covers about 45% of our total retail electric sales.

And to help us for recovery in the third quarter, this results in a sales decline of approximately 2% compared to 2019. Our base case and the case in which we are reaffirming our earnings guidance around assumes a severe impact to the second quarter with a slower U-type shaped recovery with lingering effects for the rest of 2020. This results in a sales decline of approximately 4% on a year-over-year basis.

And lastly, the severe scenario assumes a severe impact that will last through the third quarter, followed by a protracted L-type shaped recovery. This is a challenging scenario with a deeper and longer bottom in our base case, resulting in a sales decline of approximately 8% for the year. We use these scenarios as we develop our contingency plans. We view the models in severe case scenarios as having a low probability of occurring. We think the base case scenario is the most-likely outcome. Where we slip in the band around the sales impact we've outlined, we have incorporated the base case into our guidance assumptions.

There is considerable uncertainty on what will actually occur, particularly the duration of the downturn and the lingering effects, which

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we feel confident in our ability to mitigate what we view as the most likely scenario, and the April sales results came in slightly better than our forecast, giving us greater confidence.

We're also closely monitoring our bad debt expense and working with our customers on payment plans if they're having difficulty paying their bills. While it is difficult to project where we'll land, bad debt expense increased to approximately $20 million in the 2008 to 2009 time period as a reference point.

Additionally, our commissions in Wisconsin, Texas and Michigan have issued orders to track and defer pandemic-related expenses. We have also filed for deferred accounting treatment of incremental COVID-19-related expenses, including bad debt in Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota.

We are implementing contingency plans to reduce our overall cost structure and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Some of these actions include cost reductions related to employee expenses, consulting, variable compensation, deferral of certain work activities and the implementation of a hiring freeze. Based on our contingency plans, we now expect annual O&M expenses will decline 4% to 5% in 2020, which would offset the impacts of COVID-19 in the base scenario.

We also have plans in place to ensure that we can implement additional contingency plans if the negative impact of COVID-19 exceed our base case scenario. However, there are limitations to what we can offset. We will focus on providing strong customer service and reliability, and we will not make short-term decisions that have a negative long-term impact on our customers or shareholders.

Turning to Supply chain. The situation is fluid, but we have not had any material impacts to our supply chain with the exception of our wind farms. In mid-April, we were informed of supply chain disruptions, which will likely result in delays in the completion of 2 of our wind farms into 2021. We're monitoring the situation closely and is striving to complete the projects this year. However, we have fully documented our activities since 2016, and we have maintained continuous efforts since then, so we are confident these wind farms will qualify for 100% PTC benefit, even if they're completed in 2021.

And the last topic I want to cover on COVID-19 is liquidity. We're in a very strong position after enhancing liquidity in March by entering into a $700 million term loan at attractive terms, and we issued a $600 million 10-year holding company bond. We now have available liquidity of approximately $3.1 billion.

In addition, the sales proceeds from the Mankato plant will increase liquidity by approximately $650 million. And finally, we issued an equity forward last year, which we expect to settle later this year and will provide another approximately $740 million in cash. In total, this will provide liquidity of nearly $4.5 billion.

We also plan to issue $1.9 billion of operating company debt throughout the year. As a result of our enhanced liquidity, we have the flexibility on issuance timing to ensure that capital markets are accessible at attractive terms. For more detail on liquidity, please see our earnings release.

Next, let me provide a quick regulatory update. We have 3 rate cases pending, and the coronavirus has not resulted in any material delays in regulatory proceedings. In New Mexico, we reached a constructive unanimous settlement that reflects a rate increase of approximately $31 million, an ROE of 9.45%, an equity ratio of 54.8% and acceleration of depreciation on the Tolk coal plant to reflect an earlier retirement. We are awaiting a hearing examiner recommendation and commission decision.

In Texas, SPS and intervening parties have reached an unopposed constructive settlement agreement in principle. We are working with parties to document and file the settlement, which we expect to occur shortly. We anticipate a commission decision in the third quarter.

In February 2020, we filed a natural gas case in Colorado, seeking a net rate increase of $127 million based on an ROE of 9.95% and an equity ratio of 55.8%. It is fairly early in the process, so there's not much to report, but the procedural schedule has been set with new rates expected to become effective in November based on statutory requirements.

In terms of earnings, there is considerable uncertainty around the coronavirus impacts. Therefore, we have implemented contingency plans to manage our cost structure and made regulatory filings that will help to offset the impact of COVID-19. As a result, we still expect to deliver 2020 earnings within our original guidance range of $2.73 to $2.83 per share based on our base case scenario, which we think is the most likely scenario. In addition, we can implement additional O&M contingency plans if the COVID-19 impacts exceed the base case. However, there are limitations to what we can offset, as we balance the short term and long term for both our customers and investors. Our contingency plans would not offset the severe scenario, which would likely result in earnings below our guidance range, but we feel the severe scenario has a low probability of occurring.

With that, I will wrap up. We have implemented steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. We sold the Mankato facility for a modest gain. We increased our dividend 6.2%. We reached constructive rate case settlements in New Mexico and Texas. We remained committed to delivering on our 2020 guidance and our long-term earnings and dividend growth within our 5% to 7% objective range. We continued to provide reliable energy service to our customers, while ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees and communities.

Despite the near-term economic challenges, we are executing our strategy extremely well, and we remain positive about the opportunities in front of us for the benefit of our customers, communities and shareholders.

And finally, we believe we can help rejuvenate our local economies and work with our regulators and state leadership to help our communities and customers recover from the crisis. We're looking forward to being part of the solution.

This concludes our prepared remarks. Operator, we will now take questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) We'll take our first question from Stephen Byrd with Morgan Stanley.

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Stephen Calder Byrd, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD and Head of North American Research for the Power & Utilities and Clean Energy [2]

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I wanted to just get an update at a high level in terms of the opportunity for additional PPA buyouts. Just what are you seeing in terms of the opportunity? Or is that sort of a little bit on pause just given the COVID-19 dynamics? I'm just curious at a high level what your views are on that opportunity.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [3]

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Great question, Stephen, because we're all focused on COVID-19, but we're still running a business and still looking for opportunities. Brian, do you want to give a little more detail?

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [4]

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Yes. Good question. And so as we think about it, we're in regular contact with our counterparties. And obviously, there could be potential here as you see what's happening. And if any of them have an interest of selling, we're certainly in regular contact. We have our proceeding of the Mower acquisition in front of the commission, and we hopefully see a decision on that in Q2 -- Q2 or Q3. But then we're also looking at how we use the ERP in our IRP processes to help jump-start some of that, too. Some of the discussions around our acquisitions in Minnesota is how can we better improve the process with our -- with the department, our stakeholders to ensure that we're bringing it forward and have a comprehensive discussion. So we're certainly active on that stage. And we've talked about it before, continues to be part of our plan, but we don't include any of that in our base capital plan.

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Stephen Calder Byrd, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD and Head of North American Research for the Power & Utilities and Clean Energy [5]

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Understood. And just maybe at a high level in terms of resource planning, how do you think about the opportunity for further acceleration of renewables? I guess on the positive side, renewable cost keep dropping. We may -- there's always a potential for tax credits to get extended. The wind credit got extended again last year. On the negative side, I guess, we have demand uncertainty from COVID. In Texas, we had uncertainty around the status of the energy sector overall. But how do you think about the potential for additional sort of renewables growth, additional shutdowns of some of your coal assets? Do you feel about the same as you felt before? Are there reasons to be more bullish or more cautious? How would you think about that?

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [6]

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Probably, I guess, the short answer is probably a little more bullish. The cost, as you mentioned, Stephen, continue to come down. And so our steel-for-fuel strategy continues to be, I think, obviously, economically attractive. And I think the test of that was the ability to get our renewables approved in Texas and New Mexico and basically on economic terms.

I think the element -- the other element, too, Stephen, which makes me bullish is that -- and this is where I think we can partner with our states and our commissions and state administrations to be part of the solution and getting people back to work, and that's potentially accelerating some of our capital opportunities and using that to bring on more renewables at a great price point that actually helps save customers money and employees' jobs, good jobs. So not unlike with -- when we had the Great Recession, I can tell you many times that we had people [stopping] -- people have typically worked in a labor union, and actually thank myself and really the company for continuing to go forward with projects because that was the only job in town. And that's something we're really proud of, and I think we can replicate that again.

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Operator [7]

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We'll take our next question from David Peters with Wolfe Research.

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David Christian Peters, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [8]

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I was wondering if you could just give a view of where you guys see yourself within the guidance range given this base scenario.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [9]

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Where -- did you say where we are in the guidance range?

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David Christian Peters, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [10]

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Yes.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [11]

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Well, let me just -- I guess, I would say take a look at our track record over the last 15 years. I think we've demonstrated that we can deliver within the earnings guidance range. Typically, that's been at the middle or above, so we're quite proud of that. And we expect we'll be able to do that this year. But if you look at what we've done in the past and our track record on the first quarter earnings call, we don't give any additional guidance, whether we're going to be the bottom, the top or the -- whatever. So it's the first quarter. We're confident, under the base case scenario, we'll be in the earnings guidance range. And as the months and quarters roll on, as we've done in the past, we'll potentially get more color on it.

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David Christian Peters, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [12]

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Great. And then just on the preliminary sales data for April, do you have a sense of which states are seeing more weakness than others? Just understanding that you have decoupling in Minnesota and some protections in Colorado as well.

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Paul Andrew Johnson, Xcel Energy Inc. - VP & IR [13]

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David, were you suggest -- was the question about what states were affected and what the divergence in the states for April? Is that basically what you're asking? You're kind of breaking up on there.

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David Christian Peters, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [14]

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Yes, yes. That's right.

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [15]

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Yes. I'm happy to provide a little bit of color on that. I think, as we look at it, we saw the most resiliency on the C&I side in SPS and probably the biggest impacts on the C&I side in Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Northern territories. So I think that's a color. Now certainly, we'll watch it as we go over time. Now part of what we saw in Minnesota is we did have a combined heat and power plant, as we've talked about in our call before, go online in May of last year. So that's part of what we see when we look at month over month. But overall, as a commentary, greatest weakness in C&I side in Minnesota and Wisconsin and less so in SPS and Colorado is roughly in the middle of those 2.

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David Christian Peters, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [16]

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Okay. And then last question I had is just -- I think you said the equity forward, you expect to settle around year-end. But just on the Mankato sale, does that impact the equity plans at all, either for this year or next, just kind of what you guys laid out last year?

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [17]

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No, it doesn't. When I say we'll use it to reduce our financing cost for this year, we don't expect to not settle our equity forward this year. We do plan to settle it. All the Mankato does is really it's an infusion of cash of $650 million and provide some additional headroom on capital investment, if we have an opportunity to potentially accelerate investments and really help our communities and customers and the regulators accelerate some of this rebound from this crisis. So I think it gives us just some additional capital headroom.

As we think about longer term, we think about our 5-year plans, we'll reevaluate that and overall financing plans as we get to Q3 and lay out a new 5-year capital plan.

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David Christian Peters, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [18]

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Great. And actually, just final question, is the 2 renewable projects that you mentioned that could slip into '21, which ones were that?

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [19]

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Those are the 2 Minnesota farms that we're looking at. But I would say we've done -- as you'd expect from us, right, we've taken a very conservative approach and then made sure we've had all the documentation since 2016, and we've maintained continuous efforts since then. So we're highly confident, even if they do slip a month or 2 into 2021, that will qualify for [harnessing] PTCs.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [20]

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Other question?

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Paul Andrew Johnson, Xcel Energy Inc. - VP & IR [21]

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Operator, can you advance the next question, please?

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [22]

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I know we have some people in the queue, so maybe we're having some technical difficulties there. Is somebody on mute, perhaps?

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Operator [23]

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I apologize for the delay. We'll take our next question from Jeremy Tonet with JPMorgan.

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Jeremy Bryan Tonet, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [24]

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Just want to start off, I guess, do you have any regulatory obligations or guarantees associated with the wind that could impact earnings because of the project going into '21 here? I just wanted to touch base on that point.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [25]

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Do you want to take that one, too, Brian?

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [26]

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Yes. No. I mean in terms of -- we have no obligations in terms of getting in service in 2020, and we're certainly working towards that. And that's our goal, is to get them completed in 2020. But in terms of obligations, in terms of timing, we don't. There are obligations in terms of an overall cost cap, but we're certainly working to mitigate any impacts on that as you start to see a delay in schedule. We're certainly working with our suppliers and our balance -- plant contractors get those to ensure that we bring them in under the original ordered [PUC] cost cap.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [27]

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Yes, I'd say we're pretty comfortable with that, Jeremy.

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Paul Andrew Johnson, Xcel Energy Inc. - VP & IR [28]

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In addition, the SPS wind projects do have 100% PTC guarantee. But again, we think that those will get into construction by the end of the year, and we're very confident on 100% PTC.

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Jeremy Bryan Tonet, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [29]

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That's great to hear. And just a cleanup question, Slide 17. It seems like AFUDC equity ticked up a bit there. Just wondering if you could give a little bit more color on that.

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [30]

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Yes, yes. From our original guidance, it did, as you start to see some delays in some projects, and part of that was our Blazing Star 1 wind farm that we just put in service in April. That was -- that took a -- as we were in the winter time, it took a little bit longer. So that's part of it, so just kind of across the board. As you see it, part of it is the wind farm and part of it is some other investments that we're making. And we also -- there's also a little bit higher -- as we took steps to improve our liquidity, also a little bit higher AFUDC rates.

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Operator [31]

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We'll take our next question from Julien Dumoulin-Smith with Bank of America.

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Alex Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Analyst [32]

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This is Alex Morgan calling in for Julien. Can you hear me?

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Paul Andrew Johnson, Xcel Energy Inc. - VP & IR [33]

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We can, Alex.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [34]

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Yes, yes. Good morning.

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Alex Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Analyst [35]

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My first question is about your rate case filings that you have for this year. I was wondering if you have any updates on whether or not you could potentially push out Minnesota again or potentially push out Colorado, and maybe how you're thinking about using existing trackers to track that rate base instead.

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Robert C. Frenzel, Xcel Energy Inc. - President & COO [36]

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Alex, it's Bob. Thanks for the question. We recognize that these are challenging times, and we do like to work with our regulators in advance. In both Colorado and Minnesota, we have been investing in infrastructure and assets that our customers value and our regulators support. But like in the past, we do think there are mechanisms that would allow us to not file those rate cases, and you can be assured that those conversations are happening with the staff and the commissions, as applicable, in the respective states. We like to not file those cases, and we'll probably have more information for you on the second quarter call later this year.

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Alex Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Analyst [37]

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Okay, understandable. My second question and my last question is just about your CAGR over time. I was wondering if you're still anticipating being potentially in the upper end of that long-term guidance.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [38]

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Yes. I think it's a great question. Again -- and I talked a little bit about it with an earlier question. But you look at what drives our 5% to 7% growth and it's investing in projects and opportunities that are very much aligned with our states, our communities, our regulators, our legislators. So I don't see that changing, and I don't see changes to our CapEx forecast, unless to the upside going forward. So that's what drives our growth, and that's where we'll get it from.

I should mention, too, that I think we have -- one of the things I think we've done as a company is on sunny days prepare for the stormy days. And we've got great dry powder on our balance sheet. And Brian mentioned this, the other things we did. We also continue to invest in our system, keeping it strong and reliable. And so that allows you to weather situations like that and potentially come back stronger and a partner with our states as we look to jump-start the economy when we get -- all get through this.

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Operator [39]

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We'll take our next question from Travis Miller with Morningstar.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [40]

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Question on the contingency plans. I think you might have answered this real quickly, but on the O&M side, how much of these contingency plans have you been able to accomplish so far? I mean, you're talking about first 4, 5 months of the year. And then any change to the CapEx plan within those contingency plans? I think you just answered no, but just want to clarify the O&M side and then the CapEx side.

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [41]

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Yes, Travis. Thanks for the question. And Ben did answer the capital question, we really see no plans in our CapEx for this year.

And on the O&M side, this crisis is relatively recently. So we're working through all those plans, and we have a plan for balance of the year in terms of implementing them.

I mean, Ben said it pretty well. As we often hear Ben and Bob talk about dry powder, and that's been using the context of our financial dry powder with our strong balance sheet, our conservative dividend payout ratio, but we also have operational dry powder, and we've invested in the system. And then in the good days, and as the time of crisis year, we're able to weather it. And we look at -- when we think about the O&M contingency plans we're putting in place, whether it's -- we've implemented the hiring freeze, we're looking at reducing employee expenses, and that will happen over time, reducing consulting spend in our other programs. And as we think about it, right, we're targeting, as I talked about, targeting 4% to 5%, truly mitigate that base case scenario. So we do have the ability to flex up a little bit in case it's a little bit worse.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [42]

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Okay. So evenly spread, more or less, throughout the year?

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [43]

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That's a fair assumption.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [44]

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Okay. And then on the renewable development, how much are those delays project-specific? And how much are you seeing just across the entire industry, supply chain issues or other financing delays or construction delays, stuff like that, industry-wide versus the couple of projects you mentioned?

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Robert C. Frenzel, Xcel Energy Inc. - President & COO [45]

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Travis, it's Bob. I'll just comment. We work with our OEM vendors as well as our balance of plant providers to execute the schedules. We have seen some supply chain disruptions started when China shut down for a while. We've had mild disruptions from other plants where we get some of our components. We think that's an industry-wide phenomena. I think that, as Brian mentioned, we've been exceptionally diligent in tracking our costs. We are really comfortable with our ability to meet the safe harbor provisions for achieving 100% PTC. These are projects that were originally scheduled to be later in this year anyway. And so while we're trying actively to get them completed in 2020, there's some potential they do slip into '21. But I do think it's stuff we're seeing around the industry. And also, not only is it our vendors, but there's a logistics and a supply chain issue with ports and parts transport that we're seeing. It's not -- I wouldn't say it's catastrophic by any stretch. It's just mild. We just happen to have these for a later-dated projects for us.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [46]

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Yes, and again, Brian -- we're very, very confident, have worked with outside -- long term, to know that we will pass the continuous efforts test.

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Travis Miller, Morningstar Inc., Research Division - Director of Utilities Research and Strategist [47]

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Okay. Any difference you're seeing between solar and wind in terms of what you just talked about with supply chain and other logistics?

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Robert C. Frenzel, Xcel Energy Inc. - President & COO [48]

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Right now, Travis, we're only building wind farms on our own balance sheet. I haven't seen or heard a lot of solar delays. There's been a couple of public force majeure filings on some solar farms around the country, but I don't think we could speak with any authority on the solar side.

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Operator [49]

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We'll take our next question from Sophie Karp with KeyBanc.

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Sophie Ksenia Karp, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Senior Analyst of Electric Utilities & Power [50]

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I was curious if you could provide a little bit more color on the supply chain disruptions that we've been talking about, particularly with these 2 wind farms. What you guys are seeing in the supply chain? And also, do you expect that the issues may infect sort of other areas, maybe traditional power generation, transmission, distribution businesses where it might affect the availability of parts and things like that as we move forward in the lockdowns and kind of disruptions continue?

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Robert C. Frenzel, Xcel Energy Inc. - President & COO [51]

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Yes, sure. Sophie, we haven't seen any supply chain disruptions on any of our other components other than maybe toilet paper and hand sanitizer and face masks. But on the wind farms themselves, a lot of the components are manufactured in overseas and assembled here. And so depending on the progress of the pandemic and which country it's hit and which factories has caused 2-, 3-, 4-week delays in various places, which compounded equals maybe a 6- or 7- or 8-week delay on our projects, and that was enough to push them across -- potentially push them across the goal line. We're seeing not just constraints on the OEM side, but we do see logistics constraints around ports and air travel and shipping as well, and so that's caused some of the problems. I can't say that we've seen any other disruptions on any of our other components, we just haven't. But those discrete items are stuff we're watching closely. As Ben and Brian has said, we feel very confident in our ability to qualify for the PTCs at 100% and working diligently with our vendors and our transportation providers to get all the components here and get them constructed by the end of the year.

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Operator [52]

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Ladies and gentlemen, this will conclude today's question-and-answer session. At this time, I turn the conference back to Brian Van Abel for any additional or closing remarks.

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Brian J. Van Abel, Xcel Energy Inc. - Executive VP & CFO [53]

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Yes. Thank you, and thank you for all participating in our earnings call this morning. Please contact our Investor Relations team with any follow-up questions, and have a good day. Thank you.

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Benjamin Gwynn Stonestreet Fowke, Xcel Energy Inc. - Chairman & CEO [54]

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Thank you, everyone.

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Operator [55]

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Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's conference. We appreciate your participation. You may now disconnect.