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Laura Roller

David Sparby Interview


Xcel Energy is a Premier Partner of the Minnesota Historical Society. We talked with David Sparby, Xcel Energy’s vice president and chief financial officer, who is also a history graduate and holds a degree in law and an M.B.A.

33 David Sparby, vice president and chief financial officer of Xcel Energy






Why is history important?

History provides perspective. It is a framework for understanding how we govern ourselves and conduct business.

If you were going up to a cabin, what history book would you bring along?

My all-around favorite history book isThe Growth of the American Republic. It’s a staple of people who majored in history. It serves as a nice stopping point to go back and re-read different chapters of American history.

What areas of history are most interesting to you?                                        

Both American and Minnesota history, especially Minnesota’s economic history: timber, milling, mining and agriculture. Minnesota’s a fascinating place and probably has underplayed its history and its contribution to the nation.

What are some connections between your family and Minnesota history?    

My great-grandparents were immigrants. Both sides of my family worked for railroad companies during the era when they were expanding westward.

Have you visited any national historic sites or monuments?                          

Yes, and I’ve found that what we have here in Minnesota is on par with the national historic sites I’ve visited. Places like Split Rock Lighthouse and the Minnesota State Capitol – I found it as inspiring as the United States Capitol.

How does history relate to your job?                                                   

Minnesotans have a history of valuing the environment. We had some of the earliest programs for conservation and renewables in the nation. That history has provided direction for us in the energy business, and is reflected in business practices today.

Do you have career advice for students who are majoring in history or considering a history major?                                                                             

Stay with it! A liberal arts education is valuable in understanding why things are the way they are, culturally and economically. Law, government and public policy all have deep roots in history.

How is Reddy Kilowatt doing?                                                                     

Reddy’s message has changed from “Electricity is penny cheap!” to one of conservation, in keeping with the times. His nose has changed, too…the incandescent bulb has been replaced by a compact fluorescent.

31 Reddy Kilowatt





Xcel Energy is a premier partner of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Reddy Kilowatt was the mascot of Northern States Power Company, the predecessor of Xcel Energy.