MINNEAPOLIS -- Xcel Energy has abandoned plans to build a new $800-million natural gas-fired power plant at the Sherco site in Becker.

The change comes after the company got significant criticism from environmental groups who have been calling for more renewable energy facilities.

Xcel says instead, they're proposing building two smaller natural gas power plants to ensure the stability of the electricity grid. They would be placed in southwestern Minnesota and near Fargo, North Dakota. Xcel estimates these smaller plants will cost less to build and operate less frequently, meaning fewer carbon emissions.

In a written statement, Xcel President Chris Clark says "Our commitment to the Becker community and central Minnesota will not change", adding "We've partnered with them to bring new jobs and capital investments into the community to replace the retiring coal plants."

Under the new proposal, Xcel would still reduce carbon emissions by more than 80% by 2030 through increased energy storage and also adding more wind and solar energy. The plan also includes operating the Monticello nuclear plant until at least 2040.

A Public Utilities Commission decision on the plan is expected later this year.


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