Xcel Energy recognized the University of St. Thomas and six other Minnesota organizations for outstanding efforts to save energy at the Energy Efficiency Expo Feb. 17 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

St. Thomas was given the award for largest gas savings by a commercial customer: 93,433 therms in 2009 –  equivalent to amount of natural gas needed to heat 497 average Minnesota homes in the month of January this year, estimates Bob Douglas of the UST Sustainability Committee.

Assistant Physical Plant Director Jim Hoffman and Randy Mueller, chief engineer, were on hand to accept the award. 

Xcel’s annual awards honor commercial, industrial and small business customers in Minnesota for participating in Xcel Energy energy efficiency programs.

The companies lowered their energy costs and also reduced their impact on the environment. Collectively, they saved 15,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 72,000 dekatherms of natural gas in a year. That’s the equivalent of removing nearly 11,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to Xcel.

Xcel Energy offers incentives, such as rebates and funding for energy efficiency studies, to its business and municipal customers to encourage them to make energy-efficient choices. The seven award-winning organizations chose more-efficient equipment and processes for their facilities.

“Many of these conservation projects are often invisible to those not directly involved,” said Karen Rhodes, Xcel Energy efficiency marketing manager. “These awards are a way to help recognize these businesses for their exceptional work so that employees and customers realize what’s happening behind the scenes.”

The other six 2010 award recipients for efficiency included:

  • University of Minnesota, Largest Electric Savings by a Commercial Customer
  • Praxair, Inc., Largest Electric Savings by an Industrial Customer
  • Unisource, Largest Electric Savings by a Small Business Customer
  • Faribault Foods, Largest Gas Savings by an Industrial Customer
  • Spectrum Properties Management, Largest Gas Savings by a Small Business Customer
  • 3M, 5-year program participation award

Nearly 600 Minnesota Xcel Energy business customers attended the Energy Efficiency Expo, which featured teams of energy experts from Xcel Energy and outside organizations providing participants energy-saving ideas and opportunities for rebates and energy efficiency study funding. Highlights of the event included energy conservation workshops designed to help participants build an efficiency strategy to meet their energy-saving targets and lower their costs.

For more information on Xcel Energy’s new and existing energy efficiency programs, visit www.responsiblebynature.com.

For more on St. Thomas sustainability efforts, visit www.stthomas.edu/sustainability.