Xcel Energy

BECKER - Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill Tuesday morning that will allow Xcel Energy to build an $800 million natural gas plant in Becker.

Xcel Energy Spokesman Randy Fordice says preliminary work will be getting underway soon, but it will be years before it's up and running.

The natural gas plant will be in service in 2026, which is the year that the second unit will be retired, the first one will happen in 2023.

Fordice says there are about 300 people employed at the Sherco plant in Becker right now, that number will be reduced to about 150 people once two of the three coal-fired plants are shut down. He says they expect to have about 150 people working at the natural gas plant when it opens, so Xcel's employment levels in Becker will remain about the same when the transition is complete.

The initial plan from Xcel Energy had been stalled by the Public Utilities Commission. The bill passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor allows the regulatory process to move forward at a faster speed.

Fordice says they've already done three similar conversions like this in the Twin Cities metro area.