Today, Governor Dayton signed a bill into law that allows Xcel Energy to build a natural gas plant in Becker, Minnesota. Though Fresh Energy believes that the bill is a missed opportunity to pursue even greater investments in local clean energy sources like wind, solar, and energy efficiency, we are hopeful that Xcel will bring plans for the proposed plant to the Public Utilities Commission for careful review.
Working directly with Xcel and with our “Clean Energy Organizations”, or CEO, partnership, Fresh Energy used for the first time in Minnesota the same utility inputs and modeling Xcel uses. We analyzed options for closing the Sherco 1 and 2 coal plants and replacing them with vast amounts of cost-effective energy efficiency, wind, and solar power. Our independent analysis demonstrated that Xcel’s cheapest course of action—and the lowest in carbon—was the retirement and replacement of these two units, which are the biggest sources of global warming pollution in the Upper Midwest. Xcel agreed with our analysis, and completely revised its 15-year plan to reflect those economic opportunities. Fresh Energy applauds the unanimous Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decision to modify and approve Xcel’s 15-year Resource Plan as the affordable, reliable, and clean path forward for Minnesota customers.
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy announced an accelerated transition from coal energy to renewables, including 60 percent carbon emissions reductions by 2030, ceasing coal-fired generation at Sherco Units 1 and 2 in 2023 and 2026, respectively, and moving up in time substantial new renewable generation to 1,200 megawatts by 2020.