Xcel Energy approved to build one of the nation’s largest solar plants

Photo Source: Star Tribune

On Sept. 15, Xcel Energy received unanimous approval from Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to move forward with building a massive solar power plant in Becker, Minnesota. Sherco Solar will be the largest solar development in the Upper Midwest covering 3,497 acres in the Becker area. The facility will help replace the three coal-fired Sherco power plants that Xcel will begin closing in 2023 in an effort toward the company’s goal to triple the amount of solar in the Upper Midwest by 2028 and to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. The project will be completed in two phases, the first in 2024 and the second in 2025.

The project is supported by clean energy groups, local governments and labor unions, but the cost of project has drawn some controversy. Prior to the Inflation Reduction Act passing, Xcel estimated the average residential customer would be charged roughly $5.60 to $7.90 annually between 2026 and 2031. Xcel has declared the project’s revised cost following the passing of the law is a “trade secret,” which the Star Tribune formally challenged and was denied by the PUC. The PUC informed the Star Tribune the total cost of the project will be disclosed mid-October. The price tag has been disclosed as at least $575 million.

Sources: Star Tribune and Bring Me the News