Minnesota PUC approves coal-reducing resource plan of Northern States Power

The Sierra Club said Oct. 13 that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 13 held its final hearing and unanimously approved with modifications Northern States Power‘s d/b/a Xcel Energy’s 15-year Integrated Resource Plan.

An Oct. 13 meeting agenda from the commission confirms that this IRP was approved that day. The commission routinely approves cases verbally, then issues a final written order later.

The club said Xcel Energy proposed a Midwest-leading energy plan for the next 15 years – doubling the amount of wind and solar on its system and taking significant strides to reduce coal with the retiring of Sherburne County (Sherco) Units 1 and 2 in the mid-2020s. The club noted that the PUC unanimously approved:

  • Retirement of Sherco Unit 2 and Unit 1 in 2023 and 2026, respectively, and a process to identify approximately 750 MW of intermediate capacity replacement resources for 2026 that considers existing location and grid reliability needs;
  • Add at least 1,000 MW of cost-effective wind resources by 2019;
  • Add at least 650 MW of solar by 2021 through community solar gardens or other cost-effective solar;
  • Save no less than 400 MW through demand response; consider technical and economic achievability of 1,000 MW of demand response in the next resource plan;
  • Meet Minnesota’s goal of 1.5% annual energy savings through 2030 and investigate the cost effectiveness of acquiring additional energy savings through a competitive bidding process;
  • In the next resource plan, describe possible scenarios for cost-effective and orderly retirement of its coal and nuclear fleet which is reaching the end of its life, including Sherco, King, Monticello and Prairie Island.

Xcel Energy’s next 15-year energy plan filing is due Feb. 1, 2019.

“The state approved the lowest-cost plan–affordable, reliable, low carbon–in approving Xcel’s proposal to replace coal with clean energy. All Xcel customers will benefit from this clean pathway forward,” said J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director at environmental group Fresh Energy.

“This outcome allows us to invest even more in wind, giving customers more renewable energy options while continuing to ensure reliable service and support for our communities by advancing the replacement energy generation at our Sherburne County plant,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.