Breaking ground on one of the largest solar projects in the country
Sherco Solar Project will replace power from retiring coal-fueled plant
Xcel Energy broke ground last week on its Sherco Solar Project in Becker, Minnesota, which will be the largest single solar development in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest and among the largest in the United States. Sherco Solar will provide clean energy while also being the lowest-cost solar on Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest system.
Minnesota regulators approved the first two solar phases in 2022 to replace 460 megawatts of electricity generation from the retiring Sherco coal-fueled power plant. The third phase, proposed in 2023, would bring the complex to 710 megawatts if approved – enough to power 150,000 Minnesota homes.
“Sherco Solar is an important milestone on Xcel Energy’s path to nearly triple the amount of solar on our Upper Midwest system by 2028,” said Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “This is one of the biggest solar projects in the country, and it demonstrates how we’re leading the clean energy transition while delivering reliability and affordability for our customers.”
Sherco Solar will take advantage of existing transmission assets and skilled labor, providing a just transition to the Becker community with well-paid union jobs over the next three years. It is also the first host site for the State of Minnesota’s new Workforce Training and Development pilot program, which will provide hands-on construction skills training for under-represented communities. About 75 people will enter the Xcel Energy program in 2023.
“Sherco Solar is a key piece of Xcel Energy’s vision to reduce carbon emissions 85% by 2030 and to achieve Minnesota’s new standard of 100% carbon-free energy by 2040,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “Renewable energy projects like this one allow us to take advantage of federal tax credits, saving our customers money while leading the clean energy transition.”
Over the 35-year life of the project, Sherco Solar is expected to provide $240 million in local benefits, including landowner payments, state and local property taxes and production taxes. The Sherco Solar Project will be developed by National Grid Renewables, which will perform permitting and development activities, and Xcel Energy, which will construct, own and operate the project.
The company is also proposing to purchase power from the 100-megawatt Apple River Solar project being developed by National Grid Renewables in Polk County, Wisconsin. Apple River Solar will be the largest solar project in northwestern Wisconsin and one of the largest in the state.