Xcel gets final approvals for state’s largest-ever solar project

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has given the final approvals for Xcel Energy to move forward on the state’s largest solar project.

Thursday, Xcel announced its plans to move forward with the project at the Sherco plant in Becker, transitioning it away from coal to a 460-megawatt solar-powered energy plant in the coming years.

The company has said Sherco Solar is a key part of its plans to nearly triple the amount of solar on its Upper Midwest system by 2028.

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“We are pleased to move forward with the Sherco Solar project,” said Chris Clark, the president Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “We know it will be a key component to meet our customers’ energy needs as we transition away from coal and closer to our vision to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.”

Xcel says the Sherco project will create around 900 construction jobs and will also support its Power Up program, which aims to bring historically marginalized communities into the energy workforce, starting in the summer of 2023.

The company says it has transitioned other coal plants in the state without laying off employees and will work with Sherco employees, communities and others to manage the Sherco transition through attrition, retirements and retraining.

The first phase of the solar project is expected to be finished in 2024 and the second phase a year later.