Xcel Energy seeks to grow wind energy in southwest Minnesota

An aerial view of wind turbines
Wind turbines spin above cornfields at the Bent Tree Wind Farm near Hartland, Minn.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Xcel Energy is seeking a major expansion of wind energy in southwestern Minnesota.

The Minneapolis-based utility is asking for proposals for about 1,200 megawatts of new wind projects. That’s enough to power more than 485,000 homes in an average year.

The projects would replace some of the energy produced by the Sherco coal-fired power plant in central Minnesota, which Xcel plans to retire by 2030.

“Wind energy is abundant across the states we serve, and we’re excited to see developers’ proposals that will benefit our customers,” said Chris Clark, Xcel’s president in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, in a news release. 

Utilities such as Xcel are shifting away from electricity generated by fossil fuels toward more climate-friendly sources, such as solar and wind. A new state law requires 100 percent of Minnesota's electricity to come from carbon-free sources by 2040.

Xcel says it's seeking wind projects in southwest Minnesota that can be operational by the end of 2027. They could include solar or battery storage.

The Minneapolis-based utility has proposed building a high-voltage transmission line to deliver renewable energy from Marshall to Becker, where it would connect to the electrical grid. State regulators are reviewing that proposal.

Xcel also is building a massive solar project next to the Sherco plant in Becker that will be one of the largest in the country.

It plans to partner with Massachusetts-based Form Energy to install an iron-air battery storage system at the site, which it expects will begin operating in late 2025. The battery can store electricity for up to four days.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it’s awarded $150 million in grants to Xcel and Minnesota Power to bolster the resiliency and expand the capacity of the state's electric grid.