Earlier this year, Xcel Energy filed a report with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission entitled The 2016-2030 Upper Midwest Integrated Resource Plan. In this innocuous sounding filing, they proposed a path forward that few utility companies in the United States have shown interest in. By closing their two coal fired power plants in Becker, MN and adding 5,250 MW of carbon free power generation, including wind, solar, and natural gas, Xcel will make significant reductions in CO2 emissions in the next fifteen years.
The report states; “by adding significant renewable generation, we are able to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 30 percent by 2020 and approximately 40 percent by 2030, and, at the same time, continue using our existing, cost-effective thermal generation.”
In perusing the report, one finds that the largest reduction in CO2 will be derived from the increase in wind generated electricity. The increase of 1,800 MW of wind generated electricity will result in 30% emissions reduction by 2020 and a 40% emissions reduction in total by 2030
In addition to the added reliance on wind and solar energy, Xcel hopes to reduce emissions through not opening additional carbon emitting plants stating; “by 2030 our successful energy efficiency programs combined with our renewable energy additions will allow us to avoid adding three more combined-cycle gas plants to our system.” This chart shows the drastic reduction in coal produced electricity and the doubling of wind sourced power.
While it is uncertain how much impact the earlier effort to create a public utilities entity in Minneapolis at the expiration of the previous franchise agreement in 2014 will have, the fact that Xcel is working towards the group’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 30% is commendable.