On July 1, Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, filed its draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Public Utilities Commission, which is ultimately responsible for approving the IRP, is accepting public comments until spring of 2021.
The plan lays out how Xcel will invest in electricity generation over the next 15 years. Fresh Energy is pleased that the plan includes Xcel’s commitment to:
- 80% carbon reduction by 2030
- 100% carbon-free electric system by 2050
- Tripling solar generation over the next 10 years
- No more coal after 2030
- Historic levels of energy efficiency
- A dramatic increase in renewable electricity, with a tripling of solar energy over the next 10 years.
However, there is room for improvement.
What we celebrate
- Vision for 100% carbon free electricity. Fresh Energy applauds Xcel Energy for this ambitious commitment, including the plan that achieves 80% carbon free by 2030.
- Coal retirements are critical to a carbon free future, and we support this part of the plan.
- Commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Xcel has made excellent progress on renewables and efficiency, but we can do more, sooner.
Opportunities for improvement
- Gas plant infrastructure. The plan states that Xcel will continue to pursue a new gas plant in Becker, Minnesota. This plant was pushed through the legislature in 2017 without any meaningful analysis to support that this $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 Xcel meeting its goal of 100 percent carbon-free by 2030.
- 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.
How to submit an initial written comment (open until spring of 2021)*:
- Online: Visit www.mn.gov/puc, select Speak Up! Find Docket No. 19-368 and add your comments to the discussion.
- Email: Email your comments to email@example.com. Please make sure you include the Docket Number 19-368.
- Submit Online: Use the Commission’s website — go to https://mn.gov/puc/consumers/speak-up/ and fill out the form. You will be asked to include the docket number: 19-368.
- U.S. Mail: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission 121 7th Place East, Suite 350 St. Paul, MN 55101.
*The initial due date for reply comments was January 8, 2020, but this timeline was moved to February 11, 2021. Please note that written comments will be a part of the official public record, and any personally identifying information you provide will be published on the PUC’s website.