Minnesota Energy Connection

Minnesota Energy Connection will deliver new renewable energy to customers to replace retiring coal plants.

Xcel Energy is proposing to build two new 345-kV generation tie lines between the retiring Sherco coal plant and Lyon County in southwest Minnesota. The new transmission infrastructure will allow more than 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy to replace the energy produced by the existing coal units near Becker, Minn.

The new infrastructure re-uses grid connections in Becker, saving money for our customers and opening a new path for renewable energy in the wind-rich southern and southwestern Minnesota regions.

The new power lines will make it possible to build new renewable energy, creating new jobs in in the communities where the infrastructure is located. New wind and solar farms will also bring new property tax revenue and lease payments to landowners.

Project Need

Xcel Energy is leading the clean energy transition with our plan to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80% by 2030, moving closer to our vision to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.

As part of this transition, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy’s plan to retire all of its Upper Midwest coal plants, including the three Sherco units, replace them with renewable energy sources, and begin planning for renewable energy sources and power lines that connect to the existing grid.

Project Area

We are just beginning the process to identify where the route may be located. In the coming weeks we will mail notifications to landowners and local governments within the Notice Area (PDF) below.

See below for more information about route development and the regulatory process.

Upcoming opportunities for input:

Xcel Energy must receive two permits from the Public Utilities Commission before building a new transmission line: A Certificate of Need and a Route Permit.

Certificate of Need

In 2022, Xcel Energy will file a Certificate of Need application with the Commission. The application will detail the overall need for the project, the size and type of the transmission lines, when they would be constructed, and the alternatives considered to meet the project needs.

A Certificate of Need must be granted before we can build the transmission lines.

The Commission will hold several public meetings and hearings prior to making a decision on the Certificate of Need application. An Administrative Law Judge will oversee a portion of the process. The judge will hold meetings and public hearings throughout the project area to take public comment. Comments generally can be submitted verbally at the meeting or in writing to the judge.

The judge will also hold evidentiary hearings where Xcel Energy representatives, state representatives and other intervening parties will provide testimony about project related issues.

Following this process, the judge will provide a written report to the Commission and may recommend that the Commission approve or deny the application.

Route Development

Minnesota law requires we propose at least two routes for a high-voltage transmission line. We’ll work closely with landowners, local governments and key stakeholders to identify route options that could eventually be proposed to the Commission in our application for a Route Permit.

That work will begin when we host open houses throughout the project area anticipated in Fall 2022. We will mail information to landowners and local governments when those meetings are scheduled.

Route Permit

We expect to file for a Route Permit in 2023 with a decision expected in 2024-20255. Both our route development process and the State review of the application include many opportunities for public input and involvement.

Easement acquisition

After a route permit is approved, we will work with affected landowners to purchase a Right-of-Way easement where we will build, operate and maintain the transmission line. With some restrictions, landowners can continue to use their property as they were before, including agriculture. Generally, the Right-of-Way is cleared for construction. Once the lines are operational, restrictions within the Right-of-Way are limits on tall growth trees and new structures that may affect the safe operation of the transmission line.

For a 345-kV line similar to what we are proposing, the total Right-of-Way is 150 feet (75 feet on either side of the pole).

Document Library:

MNEC Notice Plan (PDF)

Contact us:

Toll-free number: 888-292-4714

Email address: MNEnergyConnection@xcelenergy.com