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Minnesota Power sets retirement dates for last coal plants, aims for 2050 carbon-free generation

January 13, 2021

Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Minnesota Power will shutter and convert its last two coal power plants by 2035 as it moves toward a promised 100% carbon-free energy mix by 2050.

The Duluth-based utility, which serves a broad swath of northeastern and central Minnesota, announced the timeline Tuesday ahead of the company filing a detailed 15-year plan with state regulators in February.

By the end of the decade Minnesota Power intends to shut down the Boswell Energy Center Unit 3, a 335-megawatt coal-fired plant in Cohasset. The utility plans to add 400 megawatts of solar and wind energy by 2030 to replace it.

By 2035, Minnesota Power intends to transition the 468-megawatt Boswell Unit 4 off coal, which could mean a switch to natural gas, biomass or other sources as advances in technology allow. With closures planned for all of the state’s other coal plants by 2030, Unit 4 will likely be the last coal power plant in Minnesota by the time it is converted. The small Boswell Unit 1 and 2 were taken offline in 2018. The company has retired or converted seven of its nine coal-fired units since 2013.

Environmental groups praised Minnesota Power for reaching 50% renewable energy last month while also calling into question the utility’s continuing plans to build a natural gas power plant in Superior, Wis. The $700 million plant, now tied up in court over permitting issues, would produce between 525 and 625 megawatts of electricity and be co-owned with Wisconsin’s Dairyland Power Cooperative. Even with the natural gas plant, the company is on track to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% of 2005 levels by 2035, ahead of the state’s target.

Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, has also announced intentions to be carbon-free by 2050. It plans to close the Allan S. King Power Plant in Oak Park Heights by 2028 and all units at Sherco near Becker by 2030.

[Brooks Johnson]

More: Minnesota Power shutting, converting final two coal plants by 2035

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