Xcel proposes major reduction in carbon emissions

The Sherco generating station in Becker, Minn. Credit:

Xcel Energy has submitted a plan to state regulators proposing a 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 — a more aggressive goal than it had outlined earlier this year.

The electric and natural gas company has also committed to retiring two coal-fired Sherco plants in Becker, Minn., in 2023 and 2026, which are the state’s largest sources of carbon pollution. Clean energy advocates and environmentalists have been pushing Xcel to close the plants.

The City of Minneapolis has a new Clean Energy Partnership with Xcel, a first-of-its-kind partnership in the nation intended to help the city reach goals outlined in its Climate Action Plan. The city has a goal of curbing its emissions 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.

Mayor Betsy Hodges commended Xcel for its “commitment in the fight against climate change” when it announced its plan Oct. 2.

“Today, Xcel has shown leadership again in announcing an ambitious plan to transition from coal power to clean-energy sources,” she said. “I am grateful to have them as partners in our united effort to turn Minneapolis’ nation-leading Climate Action Plan into a reality.”

Other highlights of Xcel’s plan submitted to the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) include a pledge to make renewable energy sources 35 percent of its energy mix by 2030, an increase in natural gas generation and commitment to helping customers become more energy efficient.

Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, said the company has experience transitioning to cleaner energy sources while protecting jobs.

Clean energy advocates will be tracking Xcel’s progress to make sure it sticks to the timeline for the proposed retirements of the Sherco plants. More than 11,000 people submitted comments to the PUC in supporting of closing the plants, according to the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.

J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director at St. Paul-based Fresh Energy, said Xcel’s proposed carbon reduction plan is “nation leading.”

“Xcel’s commitments follow the science based-recommendations for the levels of global warming pollution reductions needed across our economy,” she said.

Based in downtown Minneapolis, Xcel Energy serves customers in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. It has roughly 3.5 million electricity customers and 2 million natural gas customers through four operating companies. 

For other stories about energy issues and local efforts to confront climate change, go to www.southwestjournal.com/climate-change

(Below: Charts from Xcel Energy illustrating its plan recently submitted to the PUC.)