Xcel Energy begins work on 460 MW Sherco Solar project in Minnesota

Published on May 26, 2023 by Chris Galford

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Ground broke on the largest solar project currently scheduled for the Upper Midwest this week, as Xcel Energy began work on the 460 MW Sherco Solar project near Becker, Minn.

Expected to be completed sometime in 2025, the solar site would provide enough clean energy to power approximately 100,000 homes across Xcel Energy’s service area in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Given that it’s solar-based, it would do this without any fuel costs, helping shield the company and its customers from fluctuating fuel prices and serving as a clean replacement for much of the capacity from a coal unit at the nearby Sherco plant, which is scheduled to retire soon.

“Sherco Solar is an important milestone on Xcel Energy’s path to nearly triple the amount of solar on our Upper Midwest system by 2028,” Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, said. “This is one of the biggest solar projects in the country, and it demonstrates how we’re leading the clean energy transition reliably and affordably for our customers.”

All told, the project represents around $690 million of investment, although Sherco Solar should also qualify for federal tax credits, which will lead to reduced rate impacts and more affordable construction. As a further cost reduction and efficiency measure, the project will reuse the existing Sherco plant’s grid connections.

Work will be completed in phases, but it has already been approved as a whole by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The first, located in Clear Lake Township, Minnesota, should be completed in 2024. A second phase in Becker Township, Minnesota will follow in 2025.