Minnesota News

Landmark power plant in western Minnesota to be imploded

A power plant towers above the surrounding landscape
The landmark former Minnesota Valley Generating Plant in Granite Falls towers over the surrounding river valley in this view from December 2020. Xcel announced it'll be imploding the shuttered coal power plant on Thursday.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

A long-shuttered power plant in western Minnesota will be imploded Thursday, ending nearly a century as a landmark in the region.

The Minnesota Valley Generating Plant in Granite Falls dates back to the 1930s, and for decades it provided power for a wide swath of the state as well as serving as an symbol of the city.

Granite Falls’ high school teams were long known as the Kilowatts, a nod to the towering power plant that was built by Northern States Power along the Minnesota River on the east side of town; an amateur baseball team in the city still carries the name.

But if all goes as planned, by midday Thursday the plant and its two tall towers will be gone. Xcel Energy — successor to Northern States — closed the coal-fired plant in 2009, amid the ongoing move to cleaner energy sources.

Xcel has contracted with Veit to implode what remains of the facility Thursday morning, starting at about 9:30 a.m. U.S. Highway 212 on the east side of Granite Falls will be closed to traffic for a time, while the implosion takes place.

“The company is following industry best practices to ensure a safe implosion. Veit will place explosive charges on select support structures of the plant designed to bring the building safely to the ground upon detonation,” Xcel reported Wednesday.

In preparation for the implosion, Xcel said its crews surveyed the facility for hazardous materials such as asbestos, and removed them.

“Following demolition, Xcel Energy will clean up and recycle the concrete, brick and metals from the plant’s structure, including iron, steel, copper, aluminum and brass. The company will retain much of the site and the area will be backfilled, graded and seeded for restoration to a vegetated area,” Xcel reported Wednesday. “The company’s Minnesota Valley substations will continue to serve as a critical energy hub for the electric grid.’

Xcel and local officials are set to be on hand for Thursday’s implosion, as the company says it’s “honoring the history of this regional icon and the employees and retirees who successfully operated the plant as it played an important role in serving the community with reliable, affordable energy.”

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