The Allen S. King Generating Station on the St. Croix River will close in 2028, Xcel Energy announced today. The move is part of the electric utility’s plan to close all its remaining coal-fired plants by 2030, 10 years earlier than previously planned.
Shutting down the King Plant in less than 10 years will mean the removal of a significant fixture on the lower St. Croix River, and help Minnesota move toward an energy system with far less emissions of the carbon gasses that contribute to climate change.
According to Xcel, the King Plant burns up to 300 tons of coal per hour, enough to fill 2.5 train cars. In 2017, that meant it released about 3 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Xcel plans to replace the coal power with wind and solar, and some natural gas in the short term. The plan calls for more than tripling the amount of solar energy generation capacity in the state by 2030.
“This is a significant step forward as we are on track to reduce carbon emissions more than 80% by 2030 and transform the way we deliver energy to our customers,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “Accelerating the closure of our coal plants and leading this clean energy transition would not be possible without the dedication and support of our key stakeholders. We thank them for their work to put us on a path to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.”
The plan was developed in partnership with environmental and labor groups. It prioritizes training and other strategies to create new jobs in the development of solar and wind generation.
“The proposal announced today shows the company’s commitment to responding to the urgent threat of climate change in ways that save customers money and promotes local economies and jobs,” said James Gignac, Lead Midwest Energy Analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
It was the construction of the Allen S. King Plant beginning in 1965 that spurred much of the action to protect the St. Croix as Wild & Scenic in 1968. Opposition to the proposal highlighted the lack of protections for the river, and galvanized environmentalists. The plant’s builder, Northern States Power, now owned by Xcel, donated tens of thousands of acres of land along the upper river to the National Park Service 50 years ago, after the river was designated Wild and Scenic by the federal government.
Xcel and its partners will submit the plan for approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in July.