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

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

Xcel Energy has announced it will be bringing forward the closure of its two remaining coal plants in Minnesota.

The announcement was made by CEO Ben Fowke during a call with reporters on Monday morning, revealing the utility intends to be coal-free by 2030.

Included in the closure is Sherco 3 in Becker, which will close in 2030 – 10 years earlier than planned. Xcel already intends to have its Sherco 1 and 2 plants closed by 2026 and 2023, respectively.

Sherco 3 is the biggest of Xcel's three coal-fired plants in Becker, generating 876 megawatts of electricity.

Also shutting down will be Xcel's Allen S. King coal plant in Bayport, Minnesota, which will be decommissioned by 2028.

It comes amid Xcel's wider plans to slash its carbon emissions, revealing on Monday a more ambitious target of reducing its carbon emissions by more than 80 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.

Xcel also announced it would be extending the life of its Monticello nuclear plant by another 10 years – to 2040 – as well as building a further 3,000 megawatts of solar power developments, just under four times the amount it has now.

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Xcel previously said that shifting towards a more renewable model would be cheaper for customers in the long-term than sticking with heavy polluting fossil fuels, and have said that the changes it announced Monday won't lead to huge hikes in customer bills.

As part of the shutdown of the Sherco coal plants, the utility has already revealed intentions to build a natural gas plant in Becker to replace some of the lost capacity.

The land near Xcel's power plants in Becker is also being shopped to major companies, with Google currently interested in building a wind-powered data center near the city.

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