Sherco Power Plant
The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to consider whether pollution controls at Xcel Energy’s Sherco power plant are adequate for cutting haze over two national parks and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The federal agency and six environmental groups filed a proposed consent decree Tuesday that obligates the EPA to take action on a 2009 National Park Service finding that haze from the coal-fired plant near Becker impairs the views at Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota and Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. The consent decree would settle a lawsuit the groups filed in 2012.
Environmentalists hope to nudge regulators toward taking a harder look at the future of Minnesota’s largest coal-fired power plant. The Public Utilities Commission will hear arguments Thursday about Xcel Energy’s long-term planning process for its future power needs.
Xcel Energy says it plans to keep burning coal in the two oldest units at its Sherburne County power plant in Becker in central Minnesota. In a report to regulators, Xcel says sticking with coal is the smartest course, rather than switching to natural gas, at least until the future of environmental regulations becomes clearer.