Xcel Energy Proposes State’s Largest Solar Project

Xcel Energy Proposes State’s Largest Solar Project

Located near the Sherco coal plant in Becker, the $575 million venture would produce enough carbon-free energy to power 100,000 Upper Midwest homes per year, officials say.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy has unveiled plans to build a record-setting 460-megawatt solar project adjacent to the Sherco power plant located in Becker. Company officials say the $575 million investment in clean energy infrastructure would create nearly 900 union jobs during construction.

The proposal was made in response to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s call to energy providers to help the local economy recover from the Covid-19 recession.

The new addition at Sherco will play a key part in transitioning the site to generate cleaner energy, company officials said. Xcel Energy plans to retire all its coal plants in the region, including the Sherco one, within the next decade.

“The Sherco solar project will deliver more of the renewable energy our customers want while also keeping bills affordable for the long-term,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, in a news release.

The site will produce enough energy to power 100,000 Upper Midwest homes annually, according to Xcel.

The new plant would share the existing transmission infrastructure at the Sherco plant.

The project, owned and operated by Xcel Energy, will be developed jointly with National Grid Renewables, a renewable energy company based in Bloomington.

“Projects like this create new tax revenue and jobs, as well as boost local spending—all of which benefits local and state economies and residents,” said David Reamer, head of development of U.S. onshore renewables at National Grid Renewables, in a statement.

Additionally, Xcel Energy is finalizing a workforce and training development program for minorities and women.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and civil unrest that has affected our communities demonstrated that as a major employer in the state, Xcel Energy has a unique opportunity to lift up community members who have often been left behind in our society,” said Kim Randolph, VP of energy supply projects at Xcel Energy. “We expect more than 200 people to participate in our workforce and training development program in the Twin Cities, and many of them will help build Minnesota’s largest solar project at Sherco.”

Construction will begin next year and run through 2024.