Xcel EnergyAn energy provider based in the western and midwestern United States has broken ground on the Sherco Solar project near Becker, Minn., which is expected to be the largest solar array in the Upper Midwest, serving customers throughout the region.
The 460 MW Sherco Solar project will provide enough clean energy to power 100,000 homes in the Upper Midwest when it’s completed in 2025. The project will carbon-free replace most of the capacity of the first retiring coal unit at the nearby Sherco plant. .
“Sherco Solar is an important milestone on Xcel Energy’s path to nearly tripling the amount of solar energy on our Upper Midwest system by 2028,” said Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “This is one of the largest solar projects in the country and demonstrates how we are leading the clean energy transition for our customers reliably and affordably.”
Sherco Solar delivers the lowest cost solar energy on Xcel Energy’s system in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The project represents an investment of approximately USD 690 million in clean energy infrastructure. Sherco Solar receives federal tax credits, making construction more affordable and reducing interest rate impacts for customers by more than 30 percent. The project will be built in two locations near the Sherco plant, allowing Xcel Energy to reuse the plant’s existing network connections and provide customers with electricity in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
The first phase of the project, located in Clear Lake Township, will be completed in 2024. The second phase in Becker Township will follow in 2025.
The project will create 300 high-paying union construction jobs with an emphasis on hiring women and people of color through Xcel Energy’s Power Up workforce and development program designed to provide opportunities for people who are underrepresented in the municipal and construction industries. The project will also bring an estimated $240 million in local economic benefits to the community of Becker as the Sherco coal-fired power plant is phased out by 2030.
Xcel Energy is committed to a smooth transition for its employees at the Sherco plant, who have played a key role as the region’s energy source for decades. The company has relocated other Minnesota coal plants without layoffs and plans to do so again at the Sherco plant.