Skip to main content
Publish date:

Xcel Energy ditches plan to build natural gas plant in Becker, boosts wind and solar

Environmental groups applauded the utility company's shift.
The nuclear plant in Monticello.

The nuclear plant in Monticello.

Xcel Energy no longer plans to build a controversial new, natural gas plant in Becker, Minnesota.

The utility giant, in a Friday filing, updated its alternate energy plan for the Upper Midwest, vowing "dramatic reductions in carbon emissions from the electricity it provides customers." Xcel had already outlined goals to close its remaining coal plants in Minnesota in an effort to be greener, but that plan included the construction of a natural gas plant at the Sherco site in Becker.

Xcel has shifted course, saying this updated alternate proposal includes no such plan, will produce fewer emissions, and be cheaper.

The company is, however, outlining plans for four smaller natural gas facilities. Together, these facilities "would operate significantly fewer hours per year" and result in fewer carbon emissions than the now-cancelled Sherco plant.

Two of the added facilities — in Fargo and in Lyons County, Minnesota — would be new. The others would come via the repowering of two existing natural gas facilities. Xcel said they are needed "to ensure system reliability when wind and solar resources are not available." 

Clean Energy Organizations, a collection of environmental groups, said its members "applaud" Xcel for the change. It had described the Becker natural gas idea as "unnecessary, unaffordable and contradictory to the company’s own data and modeling, the latest science on climate change, and Xcel’s carbon-reduction goals."

Clean Energy Organizations also credited Xcel for boosting the amount of wind and solar energy that would be generated under its revised plan by about 27%. Xcel also touted the larger reduction in overall carbon emissions, saying its new alternate energy plan will reduce emissions by 85% by 2030, rather than by 80% as initially scoped.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Xcel still intends to close all coal plants in the region by 2030, while operating the Monticello nuclear plant until at least 2040.

The new proposal, the environmental groups said, is "undoubtedly a significant improvement." But they "look forward to taking a closer look at the plan and digging into the data and details," the group said in a statement, to see if these smaller natural gas facilities "are truly necessary or whether alternative, carbon-free solutions are available."

Xcel's plan is currently with the state's Public Utilities Commission.

Next Up

Cam Talbot / Minnesota Wild

Talbot leads Wild to 7th straight victory

The Wild opened a four-game road trip with a win in Edmonton.

Paige Bueckers

Paige Bueckers out 6-8 weeks with injury

The Hopkins native was hurt during Sunday's matchup with Notre Dame.

Anthony Barr

Vikings' defense could get reinforcements against Steelers

Several starters could return for a critical Thursday night matchup.

Mercer ATV accident fundraiser

High schooler in coma, fighting for his life after ATV crash

Family members found the teen on the ground and unresponsive.

Nolan Sprengeler - muskie record - nov 2021

Angler officially breaks 64-year-old state muskie record

The muskellunge he caught on Nov. 22 weighed a whopping 55 pounds, 14 ounces.

coronavirus, ICU, covid-19 hospital, doctor

4th teen COVID-19 death reported in MN is the 2nd in as many weeks

All four teenage COVID-19 deaths in the state have been reported in the past two months.

Anil Menon

Minnesota native named to NASA's new astronaut class

When he's done training, he could be sent to the space station or the moon.

broadway pizza interior facebook

Gallery: Original Broadway Pizza auctioning off everything

Get your hands on some classic Broadway signage, train-themed decor and more.

art shanty projects

Art Shanty Projects to return to Lake Harriet this winter

The festival has made some creative changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

flickr - gov tim walz - mn senate dfl

After 'extraordinary' revenue growth, MN projects $7.7B surplus

But finance officials note there is still "significant risk" due to economic uncertainty.

Related

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 11.00.15 AM

Xcel Energy to close its two remaining coal plants earlier than planned

The two Minnesota plants will close in 2028 and 2030, respectively.

Google data center in Becker moves closer to reality

Xcel Energy was granted permission to power the site.