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New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

LCG, December 4, 2019--The last operating coal-fired power plant in New York is moving toward closure shortly. Last month, Somerset Operating Company, a subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, submitted a request to the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state's required, 180-day notice to close the Somerset Station, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020. Closure is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which will evaluate if it will cause an adverse effect on grid reliability.

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Construction Commences on Enel’s Aurora Wind Farm in North Dakota

Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (“EGPNA”), the US renewable energy company of the Enel Group, has started construction of the 299-MW Aurora Wind Farm in North Dakota.

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Industry News

Xcel Energy Submits IRP to Provide Path to Achieve 100 Percent Carbon-free Energy by 2050

LCG, July 9, 2019--Northern States Power Company, doing business as Xcel Energy, submitted its 2020-2034 Upper Midwest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on July 1. Xcel Energy (Xcel) states that the IRP "charts the path toward achieving some of the most ambitious carbon reduction goals of any utility in the U.S. Specifically - we aim to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030, and provide 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050."

Xcel's Preferred Plan energy mix starts in 2020 with 40 percent fossil (coal and natural gas) resources, 25 percent nuclear and 35 percent renewable resources. In 2034, fossil declines to 25 percent (all natural gas), nuclear slips to 18 percent, and renewable resources grow and approach 60 percent of the generation. Over this period, customer energy needs decline more than 5 percent, after accounting for energy efficiency (EE).

With respect to existing coal-fired resources, Xcel plans to retire its last units early: King in 2028 (nine years early) and Sherco 3 in 2030 (ten years early). Furthermore, Xcel will continue with plans to retire Sherco 1 and 2 in 2026 and 2023, respectively, and commit to offering Sherco Unit 2 into Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) on a seasonal basis until its retirement. In total, Xcel plans to retire approximately 2,400 MW of coal-fired generation in the next decade.

Regarding existing nuclear assets, Xcel proposes to continue to operate the Monticello unit through 2040 (10 years longer than its current license) and to operate both Prairie Island units through the end of their current licenses (PI Unit 1 to 2033 and PI Unit 2 to 2034).

With respect to gas-fired, combined cycle resources, Xcel plans to acquire and operate an existing 760-MW combined cycle facility (MEC). In addition, Xcel plans to build, own and operate the 800 MW Sherco combined cycle plant in the mid-2020s to satisfy significant capacity and operational need created by coal closures.

Xcel proposes to add 4,000 MW of cumulative utility scale solar resources by 2034 (the first being in 2025) and approximately 1,200 MW of cumulative wind resources by 2034 to replace wind that is set to retire during that period. In total, Xcel plans to design a system that delivers nearly 60 percent renewable energy, although the balance between wind and solar may vary.

To address the transition to a portfolio that primarily consists of intermittent renewables, Xcel plans to add approximately 1,700 MW of cumulative firm dispatchable, load-supporting resources from 2031-2034. Xcel anticipates these resources will be utility-scale storage.

The Xcel IRP Reference Case customer energy forecast is for declining annual energy needs of approximately 0.4 percent over the 2020-2034 planning period, after accounting for EE. Xcel did include Light Duty Electric Vehicle Adoption in its forecast by adjusting residential energy and peak demand forecasts to account for increasing use of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging.
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