Minnesotans Tell Xcel Energy to Reject Fossil Fuels, Focus on Clean Energy

Public Comments Specifically Criticize Proposal for Two New Gas-Fired Peaker Plants

From across Minnesota, public comments submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) are calling for a rejection of Xcel Energy’s plans to build two new gas-fired peaker plants. These plants were included in the utility’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), currently under consideration by the PUC. A number of organizations-including MN350, Saint Paul 350, Community Power Minnesota, Vote Solar, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club–have collected comments from more than one thousand Minnesota residents concerned about the cost and safety of these peaker plants, and expressing a desire for Xcel to focus on clean energy solutions instead.

Earlier this year, Xcel Energy dropped plans to build an 800 MW gas-fired combined cycle power plant following widespread opposition to the proposal. While alternative plans proposed by stakeholders, including the Sierra Club,the Citizens Utility Board, and a coalition of clean energy organizations including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Fresh Energy and MCEA demonstrated paths to meet energy needs with clean energy and energy storage (and not new gas-fired plants), Xcel continues to push for two new gas-fired peaker plants without seriously considering clean energy alternatives.

In response, Vote Solar’s Senior Regional Director for the Midwest, John Delurey, released the following statement:

“Xcel’s announcement this summer that it would abandon plans to build a massive fossil gas plant was largely the result of public engagement and persistent grassroots advocacy. While it’s disappointing that Xcel is undermining its progress by proposing two new gas-powered peaker plants, it’s also incredibly encouraging to see so many Minnesotans speak up about the need for a clean and equitable resource plan. It’s clear that Minnesota is ready for a plan that puts us on the path to clean energy and eases the disproportionate burdens shouldered by environmental justice communities.”

In response, MN 350 Deputy Director Brett Benson released the following statement:

“Minnesotans can smell a corporate giveaway. We know it defies common sense to continue to invest in fossil fuels that damage our health, our economy and our climate. When your house is burning, the first rule is to stop pouring gas on it. Natural gas is only natural when it stays in the ground. Instead, Minnesota should invest in an equitable clean-energy future that emphasizes solar and wind power and battery storage. We should invest in a future that ensures justice for the frontline communities most affected by the climate crisis. ”

In response, Saint Paul 350’s founder Chelsea DeArmond  released the following statement:

“Counties, tribal governments, and cities across Minnesota—including our capital city, St. Paul—have made bold clean energy commitments in response to the climate crisis. We want to see these commitments better reflected in our utility’s resource planning. As we work toward deep electrification of transportation and buildings, we need to count on clean energy from our grid like wind, solar, and storage. Now is not the time to build new fossil fuel infrastructure and pipelines to fuel them.”

In response, Community Power Minnesota’s Alice Madden released the following statement:

“While disappointing, we can’t expect better behavior from Xcel unless we confront the root cause: as long as its shareholders can profit from building polluting power plants, it’s going to keep putting them in resource plans. Hopefully, the Commission uses the ample evidence in front of it to kill these consumer boondoggles.”

In response, the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Organizing Representative working with the Beyond Coal Campaign, Patty O’Keefe, released the following statement:

“Minnesotans have spoken loud and clear in support of clean energy, and in opposition to any new fossil fuel infrastructure. While Xcel Energy took steps in the right direction by dropping plans for a gas power plant at Sherco, the utility is taking a huge step back by pushing for two gas-fired peaker plants. If these new peaker plants are similar to others in the state, they would put out about 850,000 metric tons of CO2e/year, the emissions equivalent of putting an extra hundred thousand cars on Minnesota’s roads. This unnecessary pollution would especially hurt those who can least afford it, particularly in low-income communities or among children and the elderly.”

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