Xcel postpones coal-fired power plant conversion

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is postponing a planned $600 million conversion of its Black Dog Power Plant to natural gas at least until 2014.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that project would have increased capacity at the plant from 253 MW to 700 MW and reduced emissions. Black Dog currently runs on coal- and natural gas-fueled units but would have been switched completely to natural gas.

Xcel Energy filed an update to its Resource Plan it filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Dec. 1 reportedly saying there were significant changes made, including plans to assess a $250 million uprate at its Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant from 1,100 MW to 1,264 MW. Xcel expected the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to improve the increase, but the NRC wants to incorporate lessons learned from the Fukushima plant in Japan, pushing back the approval process to 2016, the article said.

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Michael Picker, a former adviser to Brown on renewable energy and a former board member of a California utility, was Brown's pick to lead the California Public Utilities Commission, the governor's office said in a statement.

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