The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission authorised Xcel Energy’s expansion of the Sherco Solar project, which will soon become one of the country’s largest solar projects. The project is an important part of Xcel Energy’s clean energy transition, and it will enable the firm to treble the quantity of solar on its Upper Midwest system by 2028.
The overwhelming vote clears the door for 710 MW of solar power near the existing Sherco coal plant in Becker, Minnesota, by adding a 250-MW array to the 460 MW that is already under construction. The project is projected to be completed in all phases by the end of 2025, replacing the capacity of the Sherco plant’s first coal unit, which is set to retire later this year. The Commission also authorised a proposal to purchase power from the 100-MW Apple River solar project in northwestern Wisconsin, which will be one of the state’s largest solar projects.
How many households the Sherco Solar
Sherco Solar’s 710-MW capacity will power more than 150,000 households per year on average across the company’s Upper Midwest grid. Solar energy requires no fuel and contributes to a diverse energy mix, which protects against growing fuel prices. Xcel Energy anticipates that Sherco Solar’s energy output will qualify for federal tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act, allowing consumers to save money.
Xcel Energy’s recently permitted expansion represents an additional $406 million investment, bringing the company’s total investment in the Sherco Solar project to more than $1 billion. The PUC authorised the early phases of the project last autumn, and work began in late April.
“We thank the Commission, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and our labour partners for their support of our solar portfolio,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy’s Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota operations. “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.”