Xcel Energy is seeking proposals to add approximately 500 megawatts of new large-scale solar near the existing Sherco Power Plant in Becker, Minn. The new renewable energy will continue the company’s efforts to lead the clean energy transition while also providing jobs that will help the economy recover from COVID-19.
“As a national leader in wind energy for more than a decade, and the first major utility to announce a vision to provide 100% carbon-free electricity, we are now accelerating our plans for solar projects near the Sherco Power Plant,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. “The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission asked for energy projects that could put people back to work, and these new solar projects will deliver those jobs and investments for our customers and communities.”
If approved by the Commission, the solar projects will create nearly 400 union construction jobs and about 25 permanent positions. The new solar installations, which will use existing transmission interconnections at the site, are expected to be operational by 2024, following the retirement of the first Sherco coal unit; the company plans to fully retire all coal operations in the state by 2030.
“Our employees at Sherco and the Becker area have played a vital role over many decades in powering the region,” said Clark. “These new solar projects will help the community make a smooth transition and provide new jobs and capital investments as we wind down the use of coal in Minnesota.” As Xcel Energy retires coal plants in the Upper Midwest, the company plans to manage its workforce through attrition, retirements and retraining and do so without layoffs.