Xcel Energy revises IRP to include four gas-fired projects, keep nuclear

Monticello Nuclear Generating Station. Photo credit Xcel Energy.

Xcel Energy, which has already proposed a plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, has altered its near-term resource proposal that includes new gas-fired generation and energy storage.

Minneapolis-based Xcel’s integrated resource plan (IRP) is revised from the one presented to regulators last year. It promises that the utility will reduce carbon emissions 85 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

Where it differs from the original IRP is removal of the plan to build a combined cycle gas turbine plant at the Sherco site in Becker, Minn. Instead Xcel wants to build four small natural gas-fired facilities in separate locations.

“Xcel Energy projects that these facilities would operate significantly fewer hours per year than the proposed Sherco combined cycle plant and have far fewer carbon emissions but are necessary to ensure system reliability when wind and solar resources are not available,” the utility release states.

The new IRP also would add wind, solar and 250 MW of energy storage capacity. As previously proposed, Xcel would still close all coal-fired plants in the region by 2030, while maintaining operations at the Monticello nuclear station (pictured) at least through 2040.

“Our new plan that we’ve proposed today meets the shared goals of our company, customers, communities, and stakeholders to lead the clean energy transition by affordably reducing carbon emissions while maintaining reliable electricity for our region,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “As we continue driving toward our 100% carbon-free vision, we’re taking advantage of low-cost renewable energy, new technology and new ways of ensuring reliability for our region to deliver industry-leading carbon reductions.”

One new natural gas combustion turbine would be located in Lyon County, Minn., and another would be located near Fargo, N.D. The company would also repower two other natural gas facilities.

Notably, Xcel Energy reported,  the combustion turbines are planned to be built with technology that can be used to maintain grid stability while not burning fuel and will be designed to enable the use of hydrogen in the future.

Regulators could decide approval on the new IRP by later this year.

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