Future of Sherco plant being studied

5:46 PM, Oct 2, 2012   |    comments
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BECKER, Minn. - The future of the coal-fire Sherco Plant in Becker is in question.

It sits on a sprawling 46,000 acres. It pumps out enough energy to serve almost 2 million households served by Xcel Energy.

With increased environmental regulations and aging infrastructure, Xcel has begun studying its options.

"It's very important that we're able to look at our system as a whole instead of individual plants because that's the way we're make the most environmental progress," said Frank Prager, vice president of environmental policy and services for Xcel.

In recent years, Xcel has converted two coal-fired plants into natural gas fired plants. Officials wouldn't say if that was an option for Sherco.

Xcel has already invested $50 million to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at Sherco and officials say they're working on reducing mercury emissions.

"We haven't installed the mercury control on units one and two, but we do have it operating on unit three," said Ron Brevig, plant director for Sherco.

A preliminary study exploring options for Sherco is expected to be completed by next year.

For now, the focus is bringing unit three back online. The unit caught fire last November after a mechanical malfunction. It is expected to be up and running by spring, officials say.

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