The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved Xcel Energy’s expansion of the Sherco Solar project, which will soon become one of the biggest solar projects in the country. The project is a key element of Xcel Energy’s clean energy transition and will help the company triple the amount of solar on its Upper Midwest system by 2028.  The unanimous vote paves the way for 710 megawatts of solar generation near the existing Sherco coal plant in Becker, Minnesota, by adding a 250-megawatt array to the 460 megawatts currently under construction. All phases of the project are expected to be complete by the end of 2025, replacing the capacity of the Sherco plant’s first coal unit that is scheduled to retire later this year.

The solar portfolio approved by the Commission also includes a plan to purchase power from the 100-megawatt Apple River solar project in northwestern Wisconsin, which will be one of the largest solar projects in Wisconsin.

“We thank the Commission, Minnesota Department of Commerce and labor partners for their support of our solar portfolio,” said Chris Clark, President, Xcel Energy - Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. “Sherco Solar will provide the lowest-cost solar on our Upper Midwest system, and these projects demonstrate our focus on clean energy without compromising affordability.”

Sherco Solar’s 710-megawatt capacity will generate enough electricity to power more than 150,000 homes a year on average across the company’s Upper Midwest system. Solar energy does not have any fuel costs and contributes to a diversified energy mix, which helps protect against rising fuel prices. Xcel Energy expects to qualify for federal tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act on Sherco Solar’s energy production, helping customers save money.

The newly approved expansion represents an additional investment of $406 million from Xcel Energy, bringing the company’s total investment in the Sherco Solar project to more than $1 billion. Last fall, the PUC approved the initial phases of the project, and construction began in late April.

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