On February 27, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued an order that follows Fresh Energy’s advocacy lead in requiring the state’s largest electric company, Xcel Energy, to analyze retiring Minnesota’s largest carbon polluters—the Sherco 1 and 2 coal-burning power units in Sherburne County, Minnesota—in 2020 and thereafter. This formal decision is an update to a December 5 decision in which the PUC voted unanimously to require Xcel Energy to analyze retiring its coal-burning units at Sherco 1 and 2 by 2020 as part of its next Integrated Resource Plan, and lists specific requirements for the utility.
Additionally, the PUC ordered Xcel to include any updated “externality” values of burning coal—what we know as the real health and environmental costs of coal—which add up to at least $2.1 billion each year in Minnesota alone. Finally, the PUC accepted a recommendation from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that Xcel evaluate a possible increase in Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 40 percent by 2030. Currently, Minnesota law requires Xcel to achieve 30 percent renewable energy by 2020, as well as 1.5 percent solar energy in that same year, for a total of 31.5 percent renewable electricity by 2020.
These new requirements apply to Xcel’s 15-year Integrated Resource Plan, due on January 1, 2015.
What’s at stake? How fully Minnesota will embrace the economic opportunities of clean energy jobs and achieve the health and environmental benefits that come from efficient and affordable clean energy. Check back often as we keep you updated on Xcel’s resource planning process.