MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Xcel Energy today announced its proposal for the one of the largest packages of energy investments in Minnesota’s history, as part of its response to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce request for energy companies to help with job growth and getting the economy on track. As part of Xcel Energy’s commitment to helping customers and the state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s proposal would include almost $3 billion of accelerated and incremental projects that will create jobs, advance the transition to cleaner energy, and keep customer bills stable.
“COVID-19 put the brakes on our economy, leading to widespread unemployment and we are eager to help Minnesota with our proposal that can help provide the economic jump start our state needs.” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO, Xcel Energy. “We thank Governor Tim Walz, our regulators and commissioners for the leadership on this issue and remain committed to working with them along with our, communities, policymakers, stakeholders and employees to move these projects forward quickly to help all Minnesotans.”
Xcel Energy proposed a slate of projects to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that would create an estimated 5,000 jobs in the state, while keeping customer bills stable. Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota have electricity bills that are 24% below the national average, and the company plans to continue to keep our customers’ bills low, at or below the rate of inflation.
Project highlights include:
Adding solar near the Sherco plant. Xcel Energy has proposed speeding up the addition of up to 460 megawatts of solar power next to our Sherco coal plant in Becker, Minnesota. Building the solar installation would create 230 to 350 union jobs during construction and generate significant state and local tax benefits as well as landowner lease payments over the life of the project. The solar installation will also generate enough carbon-free energy to power more than 240,000 homes each year while leveraging existing transmission infrastructure.
Expanding and rebuilding wind farms. Rebuilding aging wind farms with the latest technology and adding additional wind power in the state would create hundreds of construction jobs in greater Minnesota – jobs that often spur additional jobs and economic benefits in those communities. Xcel Energy would use union labor and women, veteran, and minority-owned businesses for various aspects of the projects.
- Expanding conservation and efficiency programs. We proposed to expand our current energy conservation programs, including direct rebate payments to customers who may be struggling to pay for new equipment, leading to job growth in the trade services while lowering customer bills. We also proposed to spend twice as much as the state requires on assistance programs for low-income customers.
Xcel Energy also proposed other investments in transmission, distribution, natural gas and electric vehicle infrastructure projects, including building electric vehicle charging stations for fleets and the public.
“As we join the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in its effort to aid in Minnesota’s economic recovery, we’ve proposed projects that will bring significant system benefits, accelerate the economy and advance our plans to reduce carbon emissions,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “Xcel Energy is proud to be part of the Minnesota community, and we are in a strong position to create a pipeline of jobs by moving forward with projects across the state that will accelerate economic growth while advancing our goals as we continue to lead the clean energy transition.”
The proposed projects will need approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Commitment to customers and communities
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Xcel Energy has been working to help customers save energy and money to help them get back on their feet. The company is lowering electric customer bills in Minnesota by a total of $25 million this summer, as a result of lower-than-expected fuel costs. Low natural gas prices have also led to reduced use of coal-fired generation in recent months, keeping bills low for customers while also reducing emissions.
Through another proposal Xcel Energy has made to the Minnesota PUC, commercial customers may also be eligible for reduced bills if they have experienced significant reductions in electric use due to the pandemic. The program is designed to help mid-sized facilities restart production as workers return to facilities.
In addition to these proposals, Xcel Energy is also using the $20 million net gain from selling the Mankato Energy Center to support short-term and long-term corporate giving, including COVID-19 relief in all the states it serves.
Xcel Energy has also committed to helping neighborhoods and businesses repair and rebuild following the widespread acts of property damage in the Twin Cities. That includes special recovery rebates on equipment that are up to double the usual amount to help replace equipment that was damaged or destroyed, as well as free energy consulting services.
About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.