[NEWS] New Law Allows Xcel to Shut Down Minnesota Biomass Facilities
– by Christine Bauman, June 11, 2017, Alpha News
Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed into law the omnibus jobs and energy bill allowing the Xcel Energy-managed Renewable Development Fund to be used to shut down three biomass power plants in Benson, Hibbing, and Virginia, Minnesota.
In 1994, Xcel Energy’s predecessor Northern States Power Co. wanted to expand their radioactive waste storage. The power company reached an agreement with the state, allowing an increase in nuclear storage in exchange for funding and development of clean energy alternatives. The Renewable Development Fund was created as a result of the agreement. Xcel was also required to use renewable sources, including biomass, for some of their energy production.
Following the mandate, investors created biomass plants in Benson, Hibbing, and Virginia, Minnesota. The Benson plant, Benson Power, burns primarily turkey manure along with some wood chips. The Hibbing and Virginia plants, owned by Laurentian Power Authority, burns wood chips. Xcel’s contract with Benson Power does not expire for another 11 years. Their contract with the Laurentian plants is up in nine years.