Minnesota regulators OK building massive solar power station near Becker

Xcel says it expects the Sherco Solar project to be fully operational by late 2025

The Sherco solar project
The Sherco Solar project will be built adjacent to the existing Sherco coal-fired power plant. All three units of the coal plant are scheduled to be retired by 2030.
Kirsti Marohn | MPR News file

State regulators have signed off on Xcel Energy’s plan to start construction on the largest solar-energy project in the Upper Midwest.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission reported that, once completed, the Sherco Solar project near Becker, northwest of the Twin Cities, is expected to cut carbon emissions by nearly 300,000 tons annually as the electricity it produces replaces some of the power generated by the Sherco coal-fired plant that's set to close by 2030.

The cost of the solar project is estimated at $575 million. Regulators say the project will generate approximately $240 million for the local economy over its lifetime. The Public Utilities Commission gave final approval for the plan Thursday.

Xcel says it expects the Sherco Solar project to be fully operational by late 2025. When finished it will produce 460 megawatts of power.

In a statement, Xcel said the project is vital to its plan to transition power generation from coal and have all its electricity production be carbon-free by 2050.

In approving the solar project Thursday, the commission noted broad support for the plan from surrounding communities and deemed it a cost-effective energy investment.

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