On July 1, Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, filed its draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The IRP, which lays out Xcel’s plans for electricity generation over the next 15 years, includes meeting Xcel’s commitment to an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and recommits the Company to a goal of 100 percent carbon-free electric system by 2050. The proposal details a future with no more coal after 2030, historic levels of energy efficiency, and a dramatic increase in renewable electricity with more than three times Xcel’s current solar over the next 10 years. This is a huge step forward for Minnesota and Xcel’s customers.
Fresh Energy is excited that the plan points Minnesota towards a carbon-free future with zero coal and a majority of electricity coming from wind and solar, but we also have some concerns with the plan. Our regulatory staff and partner organizations will be digging into the details, using leading edge modeling software and a team of expert consultants to answer key questions and generate data-driven alternative scenarios. Specifically, we will focus on:
Gas plant infrastructure. The plan states that Xcel will continue to pursue a new gas plant in Becker, Minnesota that was pushed through the legislature in 2017, without any meaningful analysis that this more than $1 billion investment in new fossil infrastructure is needed or beneficial to customers. Instead, Xcel should put forward other options that do not include new fossil fuel infrastructure, and that would not undermine the Company meeting its goal of 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.
Equity. The plan acknowledges Xcel’s existing programs serving under-resourced households, including energy efficiency and solar programs, and highlights proposals Xcel made in June in the PUC’s COVID-19 economic recovery docket, such as doubling the Company’s spending on energy efficiency programs serving under-resourced households, a new rooftop solar access program, and increased publicly available electric vehicle charging. We will continue to push for additional commitments to increase access to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation, and advance equity throughout Xcel Energy’s footprint.
Cost-effective path to 100%. Xcel’s plan should best project future energy demand and subsequent investment in new infrastructure that includes modern solutions, like energy storage technologies and customer electricity use flexibility.
Xcel’s proposed plan is the first step in what will be a long and detailed regulatory process. Our staff, partners, and experts will be working hard over the coming months to make sure the plan works for all Minnesotans. We will be formally filing our analysis and recommendations with the PUC in November and January. Expect a final decision this time next year on what elements of Xcel’s plan the PUC will approve.
Click here to learn how you can weigh in through the public comments process.