Great news for the environment, renewable-energy initiatives, Minnesota's air quality, and cost savings for Xcel customers. Xcel Energy, southern Minnesota's power utility, just advanced a revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the next 15 years that leaves out an earlier proposed fossil (natural) gas plant to be built in Becker, Minnesota. Xcel's press release stated: "We also believe the Alternate Plan … represents the best path forward for our customers, stakeholders, and the states we serve. Our Alternate Plan achieves greater emissions reductions, decreases customer costs, maintains reliability, adds more renewables in a faster timeframe, reduces our reliance on natural gas, and supports a new and more resilient approach to system restoration."

Xcel's original plan had been to replace three large coal-fired plants with a new 800-megawatt natural gas plant in Becker ticketed at $800 million. Instead, it will refurbish two smaller gas plants to be run only when demand is high. With more storage, two new transmission lines, and a new solar-powered plant in Becker, Xcel is moving faster toward a cleaner, renewable energy future for Minnesota.

Why is this important for Minnesota Power customers? The Nemadji Trail Energy Center, a $750 million fracked-gas plant Minnesota Power has proposed for Superior, seems to me a mirror image of Xcel's proposed, but now abandoned, gas-fired plant in Becker. The Nemadji Trail Energy Center could similarly saddle Minnesota Power customers with a stranded asset, costing money better spent on renewables and further hampering Minnesota from reaching its goal of 30% reduced carbon emissions by 2025.

Minnesota Power needs to follow Xcel's bold plan to revise its IRP, eliminate its proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center, and invest more in renewables, storage, and efficiency while making a just transition to cleaner energy sources.

Minnesota Power, let's have some great news from you!

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Linda Herron


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