Xcel abandons plans for Sherco natural gas power plant


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Xcel Energy has canceled plans for an $ 800 million natural gas plant in Becker amid criticism from environmental and clean energy groups.

Instead, the Minneapolis-based company said Friday it now plans to build two small natural gas plants – one in southwest Minnesota and North Dakota – at less than half the cost of the Becker factory.

The Star Tribune reports that new gas-fired power plants would run only sporadically to balance renewable energy production, not nearly continuously like the planned Becker power plant.

Xcel also announced on Friday that it would increase its wind and solar power capacity by 27% over the next decade, more than expected. And for the first time, the company has revealed plans for major energy storage facilities in Minnesota.

Xcel had planned to build an approximately 800 megawatt natural gas power plant at its Sherco site in Becker, where three large coal-fired power plants are currently operating. Xcel plans to shut down these factories – and all of its coal generators in Minnesota – between 2023 and 2030.

The two new gas plants would both have a production capacity of 400 megawatts, but they would be “peak” plants, operating much less than the Sherco gas plant.

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