MINNEAPOLIS (WJON News) - Xcel Energy has moved closer to its goal of 100% carbon-free electricity after retiring one of the three coal-fired units at the Sherco Power Plant last weekend.

The Sherburne County Generating Plant, or Sherco, has been called the largest power plant in Minnesota. The other two coal-fired units are scheduled to be retired in 2026 and 2030, marking the company’s full exit from coal-generated power.

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Ryan Long, president of Xcel Energy—Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota says Sherco will remain a vital component of Xcel’s power generation plan.

Sherco has served our customers reliably for nearly 50 years, and we see tremendous potential for the plant site in the Upper Midwest’s energy future. Just as we’re taking a phased approach to decommissioning the coal units, we’re building replacement generation in phases to support clean, reliable, and affordable energy for our customers.

Xcel continues to construct what officials say is the largest solar facility in the Midwest next to the Sherco site. Once complete, the project is projected to generate 710 megawatts - enough electricity to power more than 150,000 homes.

In addition a 10-megawatt, 100-hour battery storage facility pilot project at the Sherco site. The storage system, developed by Massachusetts-based Form Energy, will allow Xcel Energy to enhance reliability by storing wind and solar power to distribute during periods of lower renewable production.

Michelle Neal, Sherco’s plant director, says Xcel officials remain committed to a smooth transition to the new power technologies with no layoffs at Sherco.

 There’s a lot of life left at the Sherco site, and our dedicated coworkers will manage the transition over the next decade. The plant, and all those who keep it running well, have served as the backbone of the region’s generation fleet for decades.

A news release from Xcel Energy says the new energy investments at the Sherco plant site will provide economic benefits in Becker and the surrounding area:

  • Sherco Solar: Nearly 400 union construction jobs, 18 ongoing operations and maintenance jobs, and an estimated $350 million in local economic benefits through payments to landowners and local governments.
  • Battery storage: 15 to 20 union construction jobs.
  • Minnesota Energy Connection: Hundreds of jobs to build the transmission line and new wind and solar resources, and an infrastructure investment of more than $1 billion for the region.

Xcel Energy is also working with the state and local communities to bring new jobs and investments to areas affected by coal plant retirements.

 

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