- The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved the addition of 250 MW to a 460 MW solar plant in the state
- Xcel Energy will invest an additional $406 million to add this capacity, and bring the entire project online by 2025-end
- It is coming up in Becker, near the existing Shero Coal Plant whose 1st unit is scheduled to retire later this year
US utility Xcel Energy is set to expand the annual installed capacity of Sherco Solar Project in Minnesota to 710 MW, all of which will replace the capacity of Sherco Coal Plant’s 1st unit. The latter is to retire later this year, in line with the utility’s plan to exit coal operations by 2030.
The solar power plant is under construction since April this year with an originally intended capacity of 460 MW. Xcel has now secured a green signal from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to expand the project with the addition of 250 MW.
The expansion will cost Xcel $406 million in additional investment, taking its total investment in the Sherco Solar Project to exceed $1 billion.
Located in Becker, the solar power plant is due for completion by 2025-end. It will generate enough clean energy to power over 150,000 homes/year on an average across the company’s Upper Midwest System.
The President of Xcel Energy – Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota, Chris Clark said, “Sherco Solar will provide the lowest-cost solar on our Upper Midwest system, and these projects demonstrate our focus on clean energy without compromising affordability.”
Xcel expects the project to qualify for federal tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Additionally, it will use existing grid infrastructure from the coal power plant, making it a cost-efficient endeavor.
The solar portfolio approved by the commission also includes a plan to purchase power from the 100 MW Apple River solar project in northwestern Wisconsin, which will be one of the largest solar projects in Wisconsin, according to Xcel.
Xcel had launched a tender in 2021 for around 500 MW PV capacity to be installed near the Sherco Coal Plant in 2021 (see Xcel Energy Seeking Proposals For 500 MW Solar PV Capacity).