StarTribune Quotes Sarah Johnson Phillips on Wrangling Over Fate of Minnesota Coal-Fired Generators

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Stoel Rives attorney Sarah Johnson Phillips was quoted in the StarTribune in an article titled “Xcel Energy's large coal-fired generators at Becker face pressure for retirement.” The article discusses how clean-energy groups and more recently the Minnesota Department of Commerce are pressing Xcel Energy Inc. to curtail the burning of coal at the company’s Sherco generating station in Becker, Minn.

The plant, Xcel’s largest with three generators, is the state’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide linked to climate change, according to federal data. The Commerce Department recommended the utility convert one of two older generators at Sherco to burn natural gas by 2025, while clean-energy groups want state regulators to require Xcel to retire both of the older units even sooner.

Proponents of delaying retiring the coal burners include city officials in Becker, who fear cutbacks at Sherco could affect city residents and municipal taxes, and large industrial customers, who worry that investments to replace coal plants could raise rates and also note that Xcel is projected to have surplus generating capacity until 2024.

“[T]here does not appear to be any need to put further upward pressure on rates with near-term additional capital expenditures or by making decisions to retire resources that would require significant capital expenditures to replace,” wrote Phillips in a recent regulatory filing.

Read “Xcel Energy's large coal-fired generators at Becker face pressure for retirement,” published July 20, 2015.

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