On July 1, Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, filed its draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
The IRP, which lays out Xcel’s plans for electricity generation over the next 15 years, includes Xcel’s commitment to an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and a 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 a tripling of solar energy 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 toward 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 includes a new gas plant in Becker, Minnesota that was pushed through the legislature in 2017. But much has changed since then. Is a new gas plant the best approach given costs and energy needs? We’re highly skeptical.
- Equity. Since the plan doesn’t explicitly address energy access and equity, what opportunities are there to ensure no one is left behind in the transition to clean energy?
- Cost-effective path to 100%. How can the plan best project future energy demand and subsequent investment in new infrastructure that includes modern solutions, like energy storage technologies and distributed energy resources? Additionally, what is the role for Xcel’s nuclear plants?
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 Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in November and January. Expect a final decision this time next year on what elements of Xcel’s plan the PUC will approve.
Stay tuned for updates on how you can weigh in. We’ll alert you when the public comments are officially open, along with our recommended action items.