In a step toward its goal of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, Xcel Energy retired one of three coal units at the Sherburne County Generating Plant, or Sherco, over the weekend.

For decades, Sherco has been Minnesota’s largest power plant. Xcel Energy plans to retire Sherco’s remaining coal-fired units in 2026 and 2030, marking the company’s full exit from coal. Xcel says the plant site itself is central to its clean energy transition with investments in solar, battery storage and new transmission lines to utilize the existing infrastructure.

Michelle Neal, Sherco’s plant director, points to the Sherco substation from the roof of Unit 3.(Credit: Xcel Energy)

Xcel Energy is currently building a solar facility adjacent to the Sherco site. Construction is underway on the first two phases of the Sherco Solar project, totaling 460 MW, while an additional 250-MW solar array awaits site permit approval. Once complete, the combined 710 MW would generate enough electricity to replace the capacity of the coal-fired Unit 2 that retired Dec. 31, Xcel Energy said. The company will also build a 10-MW, 100-hour battery storage facility at the Sherco site as a demonstration project.

Last October, Xcel Energy asked developers to submit proposals for approximately 1,200 MW of new wind projects in southwest Minnesota that would be commercially operable by the end of 2027.
 
The company is proposing to build the Minnesota Energy Connection transmission line, which will link at least 2,000 MW of wind and solar resources in southwest Minnesota to the grid, while reusing existing grid connections at Sherco.

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