New alternate Xcel Energy plan removes gas power plant, adds clean renewable energy
Clean Energy Organizations applaud changes in utility company’s latest proposal
SAINT PAUL, MINN. (June 25, 2021) -- An alternate long-range energy plan filed Friday by Xcel Energy removes a proposed gas power plant and adds significant renewable energy, reflecting a welcome and necessary realignment with the utility company’s promise to achieve a carbon-free electric system by 2050.
Most notable in the updated proposal, filed as part of reply comments in the long-term energy
plan known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), is the absence of the Sherco gas-fired power plant.
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, Clean Grid Alliance, and the Union of
Concerned Scientists - collectively the Clean Energy Organizations (CEO) - applaud Xcel’s decision to
bring forward an alternative to the new combined-cycle gas plant proposed in its previously filed IRP,
especially one that includes significant new investments in wind and solar. CEO’s modeling, using the
same software as Xcel, shows that the Sherco plant is unnecessary, unaffordable and contradictory to the
company’s own data and modeling, the latest science on climate change, and Xcel’s carbon-reduction
The CEOs are also encouraged and excited about new investments in clean energy included in
the proposal, reflecting Xcel’s commitment and ability to be an industry leader on climate change. Not
only is the new long-range plan hundreds of millions less expensive for ratepayers, it would cut carbon
emissions 86 percent by 2030, up from 80 percent in the original proposal. It also includes a new and
innovative transmission “extension cord” line that would connect Xcel’s existing grid infrastructure to
southwest Minnesota, unlocking thousands of megawatts of renewable energy from the richest renewable energy region in the state that would otherwise have no available transmission capacity.
While the new proposal is undoubtedly a significant improvement from Xcel’s earlier IRP, our
CEOs look forward to taking a closer look at the plan and digging into the data and details in the coming
weeks. We want to see if data and modeling shows that other components of the proposal - such as the
construction of two smaller peaker power plants that will run only occasionally - are truly necessary or
whether alternative, carbon-free solutions are available.
We appreciate Xcel’s willingness to respond to Minnesota and the nation’s imperative to get to
100 percent clean energy sooner, while minimizing fossil fuels. CEOs drafted our own alternative energy
plan -- which we filed with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in February -- that indicates Minnesota’s
energy sector can and should be even more robustly supported by renewables in the future.
Investor-owned utilities in Minnesota are required by law to submit plans every two years to the
PUC that outline how they aim to meet their energy demands for the next 15 years. Xcel filed its first IRP
back in 2019, and while it includes important strides toward a cleaner grid -- notably Xcel’s
announcement to retire its two remaining coal-fired plants - its inclusion of a new $2 billion gas-fired
power plant to be built in Sherco does not make sense in 2021.
“We are delighted to see Xcel take bold action to move more quickly to a carbon-free electricity system,”
stated Ellen Anderson, Climate Program Director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental
Advocacy. “Xcel’s new plan omits the large gas power plant, and chooses lower cost, lower carbon
alternatives that will accelerate renewable energy and help us meet the need for immediate climate
"We applaud Xcel Energy putting forward an innovative solution that utilizes significant amounts of new
wind, solar and transmission rather than a very large and risky new fossil gas plant,” said Allen Gleckner, Lead Director, Clean Electricity at Fresh Energy. “Creatively leveraging existing grid connections along with some of the Upper Midwest's best wind and solar resources is a responsible way to both help Minnesota meet its climate goals and keep costs down for customers."
“Clean Grid Alliance commends Xcel Energy for taking the next steps on infrastructure needed to add
new renewables and particularly unlocking additional wind energy in the western MISO footprint,” said
Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt. “The wind resources are extremely cost effective
for ratepayers and provide many benefits for local communities, landowners, and workers in Minnesota.
The additional transmission capacity is a much-needed outlet for the outstanding wind resources
available in the Midwest.”
“The climate and customers’ wallets will benefit from Xcel’s new proposal,” said James Gignac, senior
Midwest energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Xcel should be commended for its
efforts to identify cleaner and more cost-effective solutions. Minnesotans deserve healthier air and a safer
Amid the worsening climate crisis, state and federal leaders have made critical promises to
drastically cut carbon emissions to head off the worst impacts of climate change. To meet these urgent
goals, all sectors of society, and especially the energy industry, cannot continue to invest in old ways of
doing business that we now know have catastrophic consequences for the livability of our planet.
CEOs hope other companies follow Xcel’s lead and accelerate work to transition to a carbon-free