Xcel Energy made an ambitious announcement on Tuesday, pledging to provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.

By 2030, the Minneapolis-based utility pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels in the eight states it serves.

While Xcel is confident it can meet the 2030 goals using current technology, it said it is counting on other technology to either be developed or made more cost-efficient to meet the 2050 goal.

"Our goals are ambitious and achieving them requires a long runway," said President and CEO Ben Fowke in a statement. "We're starting the conversation today to make sure we can achieve this groundbreaking transition while continuing to keep energy affordable and reliable for customers."

During the past decade, Xcel has proved to be a national leader in renewable energy and has long been the largest wind-energy provider among U.S. utilities. It already has staked out an Upper Midwest electricity generation mix that would be 85 percent carbon-free by 2030 (including Xcel's two nuclear plants).

The company said the 2050 goal announced Tuesday is the most ambitious in the U.S. power industry.

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement that the 2050 goal is "an act of true leadership."