Xcel Energy said Monday it wants to add around 500 megawatts of new large-scale solar generation near its existing Sherco Power Plant in Becker.
Minneapolis-based Xcel is accepting proposals from solar developers to build projects of at least 75 megawatts that interconnect to the existing infrastructure at the Sherco plant. Proposals will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Feb. 2.
The project would create 400 union construction jobs and around 25 permanent positions, pending approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
“As a national leader in wind energy for more than a decade, and the first major utility to announce a vision to provide 100% carbon-free electricity, we are now accelerating our plans for solar projects near the Sherco Power Plant,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
“The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission asked for energy projects that could put people back to work, and these new solar projects will deliver those jobs and investments for our customers and communities.”
Xcel expects the solar installations to be running by 2024, following the retirement of the first Sherco coal unit. Xcel plans to fully phase out all coal plants in Minnesota by 2030. As the coal plants are retired, Xcel plans to avoid layoffs by managing its workforce through attrition, retirements and retraining.
“Our employees at Sherco and the Becker area have played a vital role over many decades in powering the region,” Clark said. “These new solar projects will help the community make a smooth transition and provide new jobs and capital investments as we wind down the use of coal in Minnesota.”