Xcel Energy isn’t waiting for the future of energy to happen- it’s building the future of energy.
That was the message from Xcel Energy officials at its annual community breakfast, held Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the Monticello Community Center.
Xcel also highlighted its commitment to clean, reliable and affordable power.
That includes the company’s commitment to be a producer of 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050.
Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy for Minnesota and the Dakotas said the company is ready to meet the charge towards clean energy.
From a corporate perspective, Xcel Energy operates in eight states with 3.6 million electric customers and 2 million natural gas customers.
In Minnesota, there are 1.3 million electric customers and 460,000 natural gas customers.
As Xcel transitions from coal-fired plants to alternative sources of energy, the company has become a leader in generating wind energy, Clark said.
“We have been the nation’s number one wind-leader for many years,” he said.
Xcel’s nuclear plants, such as the facility in Monticello, along with wind and solar power, are being counted on to help Xcel reduce its carbon-based energy sources by 80 percent by 2030, Clark said.
Clark reiterated that Xcel is looking at a 20-year commitment to nuclear energy production at Monticello, with two 10-year license renewals beginning in 2030.
Locally, the commitment to energy sources other than coal will result in the Sherco plants in Becker being closed and converted to alternative uses, such as natural gas production.
But Xcel remains committed to Becker, Clark said, noting that the company has helped recruit Northern Metals and a potential Google server farm to Becker in an attempt to take advantage of the land around the Sherco plant.
“We know that it’s not just close the plant and on we go,” Clark said.
Tim O’Connor, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer for Xcel Energy, noted that the company posted a 95.6 percent operating performance within its nuclear power unit- an excellent accomplishment by industry standards.
O’Connor said Xcel is faced with some important questions to answer in the future.
“We need to reinvent nuclear. But how will we reinvent it? And as the world changes, can nuclear change with it?” O’Connor asked.
One thing Xcel is exploring is using excess capacity to to produce hydrogen, he said.
Chris Church, site vice-president of the Monticello Nuclear Plant, noted that it was a very good year for the Monticello plant.
A boiling water reactor with a 671 megawatt capacity, the plant has been operating 141 consecutive days since its refueling in the spring of 2019.
Randy Capra, general manager of Xcel’s power generation division, talked about the future of Sherco and the transition to natural gas.
Sherco 2 will close in 2023, Sherco 1 in 2026, and Sherco 3 in 2030, Capra said.
Capra said the process of transitioning Xcel employees to the future of the Sherco operation is already underway.
Reach Jeff Hage at firstname.lastname@example.org