Xcel Energy to build largest solar energy project in Minnesota

Xcel Energy has proposed to build Minnesota’s largest solar energy project near the Sherco power plant in Becker, Minnesota, the company announced Tuesday.

According to a release, the 460-megawatt Sherco Solar project is part of Xcel Energy's vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. Officials said the project represents about $575 million in clean energy infrastructure and will help create nearly 900 union construction jobs.

The new project will be built in 2022-2024, and officials said it will produce enough energy to power 100,000 Upper Midwest homes each year. The project will be developed jointly by National Grid Renewables and Xcel Energy, and owned and operated by Xcel Energy.

Xcel Energy also said the company plans to retire all its coal plants in the region, including the Sherco plant, within the next decade. 

According to officials, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission asked energy providers to bring projects forward to help the region’s economy recover from the COVID-19 recession, which is why Xcel Energy said it is proposing the Sherco solar project several years earlier than planned. The project will provide an estimated $115 million in wages from nearly 900 new union construction jobs and $240 million in local benefits over the life of the project.