Xcel Energy closing coal plants in Minnesota earlier than expected

May 20, 2019 06:24 PM

Xcel Energy has announced plans to retire its final two coal plants in the Upper Midwest earlier than expected.

Both plants are located in Minnesota.


The company says the Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station in Becker's third and final generator - Sherco III - will close in 2030, while the Allen S. King Generating Station in Oak Park Heights will close in 2028. 

The first two generators at Sherco - Sherco I and II - had already been scheduled to close in 2023 and 2026 respectively, the company says.

RELATED: With generators slated to retire, Becker looks to diversify economy

After Xcel Energy retires the last of its coal plants, there will be just one left in all of Minnesota.  Right now, there are five plants across the state that use coal exclusively as a fuel source.  The four locations below in blue have all announced plans to close, including two in the next two years.  The one location in red remains fully operational with no plans to close. It's in Cohasset, Minnesota, just west of Grand Rapids.

A release said the closures are part of a larger plan by Xcel, which will be submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in July. The Upper Midwest Energy Plan is designed to lead to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions in the Upper Midwest by 2030 (compared with 2005), and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. 

"We believe this plan will be implemented at or below the cost of inflation," Ben Fowke, Xcel Energy, Chairman, President, & CEO said.  "We're also making sure affordability and reliability the things our customers rely on each and everyday are preserved." 

The release states the company expects to complete its wind-expansion by 2022, adding 1,850 megawatts of wind. At that point, according to the release, 30 percent of customers' energy in the Upper Midwest will come from wind.

"This is a significant step forward as we are on track to reduce carbon emissions more than 80% by 2030 and transform the way we deliver energy to our customers," said Chris Clark, the president of Xcel Energy - Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, in a statement contained in the release.

"Accelerating the closure of our coal plants and leading this clean energy transition would not be possible without the dedication and support of our key stakeholders.  We thank them for their work to put us on a path to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050."

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