WASHINGTON (January 11, 2022) — Benjamin G.S. “Ben” Fowke, who recently retired as executive chairman of Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, today was awarded the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) Distinguished Leadership Award. The award recognizes the commitments, contributions, and individual achievements of investor-owned electric company leaders. Recipients are chosen by their peers.
“Ben is an exceptional leader for our industry and a true champion of the clean energy transformation,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “He set bold visions for the future and has played a key role in shaping major energy policies that will continue to directly benefit electricity customers throughout the country.”
Fowke served as EEI chairman from June 2020 to June 2021 and retired from Xcel Energy at the end of December.
“Despite the challenges we faced as a nation and as an industry in responding to the coronavirus, Ben focused his EEI chairmanship on advancing our industry’s clean energy goals and on establishing an industry-wide initiative to advance racial and social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Kuhn added. “We know we have a lot of work left to do, but we made tremendous progress under Ben’s leadership. We are honored to present him with this prestigious award.”
Under Fowke's leadership, Xcel Energy made a commitment to be net-zero by 2050. Today, nearly 50 EEI member companies have followed with bold commitments for the future. Fowke also has been a strong advocate for investing in the new, 24/7 carbon-free technologies that EEI's members will need to achieve their carbon reduction goals.
“I applaud Ben for his leadership and congratulate him for receiving this outstanding award,” said Nick Akins, chairman, president, and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power. “During Ben’s chairmanship, EEI and its member companies were quick to develop an effective COVID-19 response plan that prioritized the safety of our workforce, our customers, and our communities. This enabled our mutual assistance networks to remain operational and ready for what ended up being record-breaking hurricane and wildfire seasons, as well as for numerous severe winter storms. He also continued to help steer our industry toward its clean energy transformation and directly focused on the role our industry has in addressing racial and social justice issues throughout our communities.”
Akins received EEI’s Distinguished Leadership Award in 2017.
Prior to serving as executive chairman, Fowke served as Xcel Energy’s chief executive officer from 2011 to 2021 and was instrumental in driving the clean energy transition. Under his leadership, Xcel Energy reduced its carbon emissions 51 percent and was the first electric company to announce a goal of carbon-free electricity by 2050.
Fowke served as co-chair of the 2017 Greater Twin Cities United Way campaign with his wife, Kathleen. In 2018, Fowke was chosen as the Executive of the Year by Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal and was the recipient of the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Utility Dive named Fowke as its 2020 Executive of the Year, and Junior Achievement North named him a 2021 Hall of Fame laureate.