Xcel fires up for Sherco 3 restart

XCEL Energy has told Minnesota regulators that repair work on its Sherco 3 unit at the Sherburne County coal-fired power plant is complete.

Staff Reporter

"We are currently performing pre-operational checks and anticipate initial grid synchronization to occur this week," it said in a letter obtained by Reuters.

"Once all testing is completed, Sherco 3 will be released for commercial operation and dispatch. We anticipate the testing will be completed within the next few weeks," the letter said.

Extensive turbine damage caused the 860MW unit to close in November 2011.

Sherco is one of three units at the 2400MW Sherburne coal plant in Becker, Minnesota.

Sherco is the company’s largest plant in terms of area, steam production, power-generation capability and coal consumption.

The plant burns 30,000 tons of low-sulfur coal each day from mines in Montana and Wyoming – or more than nine million tons a year.

Northern States Power Co, the Minnesota-based unit of Xcel Energy, recently performed a study on whether to convert Sherco units 1 and 2 to gas. It determined that the most cost-efficient option for the future of the 30-year-old plant was to do nothing.

“The company believes the most prudent course of action at this time is to continue to operate Sherco 1 and 2 as we await greater clarity and certainty around the development of environmental regulation, and the resulting timing and costs,” it said.

“This strategy aligns the timing of a decision on the future of Sherco 1 and 2 with the availability of more complete information.

The NSP Electric System serves over 1.6 million electric customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Together, NSP’s generating plants have a net maximum capacity of over 8300MW from a variety of fuel sources including coal, natural gas, nuclear fuel, water, wind and biomass.

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