- Xcel Energy Inc. notified Minnesota regulators it will shutter the coal units at its Black Dog Generating Station and transition to the use of natural gas in April 2015. Xcel said it could not continue to use coal at the facility because of the retrofit costs necessary to comply with new EPA emissions rules.
- Xcel will have only two coal-burning facilities left in Minnesota, the Sherco Generating Station at Becker and the King Generating Station at Oak Park Heights. Xcel said it has no plans to convert either of those plants.
- The most recent EPA data, from 2013, showed Black Dog to be the state’s fifth biggest source of CO2 emissions. Sherco, another Xcel plant, was 2013's biggest CO2 emitter but it also generates 24% of the power for Xcel’s Upper Midwest customers. King was Minnesota's fourth biggest emitter.
“Retiring the [Black Dog] units will benefit our customers by not only avoiding those costs, but also reducing emissions,” explained Dave Sparby, president/CEO of Xcel’s Northern States Power Co.
After years of fruitlessly attempting to pass legislation that would fight global climate change through emissions controls, President Obama decided to take executive action by ordering the EPA to write new emissions reduction rules under the authority of the Clean Air Act.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. It requires each state to set up its own plan using four possible actions: more efficient coal powered electricity generation, more natural gas powered generation, more nuclear- and renewables-powered generation, and/or more demand side efficiency.