PUC tells Xcel to study retiring 2 units at Sherco

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has told Xcel Energy to study retiring the two oldest units at its Sherco power plant.

The PUC decided Thursday that Xcel should consider various retirement scenarios as part of a long-range plan that’s due in July.

Sherco is Minnesota’s largest coal-fired power plant. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups want to see Sherco’s 1 and 2 units retired by 2020 because of their greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, Xcel officials said they don’t object to studying retirement. They acknowledged an earlier study on Sherco found retirement could make financial sense at some point, depending on the future cost of carbon dioxide emissions and other factors.

Several people testified Thursday that closing the plant near Becker could cost jobs.