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Two Coal Plants Closing a Decade Early in the U.S. Midwest


May 20, 2019, by Will Wade

(Bloomberg)

Xcel Energy Inc. plans to shutter its last two coal-fired power plants in the Upper Midwest a decade ahead of schedule as part of a pledge to phase out carbon-dioxide emissions.

The Minneapolis-based company expects to close the Allen S. King power plant in 2028 and its Sherco 3 facility in 2030, according to a statement Monday. Both plants are in Minnesota.

The shift comes as Xcel moves to cut carbon-emissions 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. In December, the company became the first big U.S. utility to commit to eliminating all its carbon emissions, mainly by using renewable energy. Xcel is accelerating its plan to close the two coal plants by seeking permission to operate its Monticello nuclear plant through at least 2040, instead of retiring it by 2030.

“As we transition away from coal, we don’t want to move away from other baseload, carbon-free nuclear power,” Chief Executive Officer Ben Fowke said in an interview.

Closing the two coal plants is part of a proposal for its Upper Midwest operations that Xcel will submit to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in July. Xcel also has operations in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Coal currently provides about 37% of its power nationwide, according the company’s website.

As part of the transition, Fowke also said he would consider systems to capture and trap carbon dioxide from gas or coal plants, as well as other emerging technologies including energy storage and hydrogen power. Renewables will be largest part of Xcel’s portfolio by next year.

(Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, financially supports the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which seeks to retire U.S. coal-fired plants.)



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