Xcel Energy's chief financial officer, Bob Frenzel, has been named the company's president and chief operating officer, potentially making him the eventual heir to the company's CEO suite.

Xcel said in a statement Wednesday that it is "taking a next step in thoughtful succession planning" with Frenzel's appointment.

The Minneapolis-based utility gave no indication that CEO Ben Fowke, 61, has plans to retire soon. But it's common for publicly traded companies to elevate an executive to COO before he or she becomes CEO.

The chief operating officer's post is being created for Frenzel, 49, who joined Minneapolis-based Xcel as CFO in 2016. The last time the company had a COO was when Fowke held the position before being named CEO in 2011.

"Bob has been instrumental in executing our Steel for Fuel growth strategy and will be outstanding in this new role as chief operating officer," Fowke said in the statement. "He is a proven leader in our industry."

Steel for Fuel refers to Xcel's big wind-power build-out in recent years.

Frenzel will be replaced as executive vice president and CFO by Brian Van Abel, who is now Xcel's senior vice president for finance and corporate development. Both Frenzel's and Van Abel's new roles will be effective March 31.

Xcel also named Tim O'Connor, now its chief nuclear officer, executive vice president and chief generation officer, a new position. O'Connor will retain oversight of Xcel's nuclear power plants in his expanded role.

Xcel is Minnesota's largest electric utility and its second-largest natural gas provider. Minnesota and Colorado are its biggest markets, and Xcel also does business in New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and a sliver of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.