Becker coal-fired plant closure met with mixed reactions
BECKER, Minn. (AP) — Residents in a central Minnesota community have mixed feelings about the closure of a coal-fired plant that employs hundreds of people and provides three-fourths of the city’s tax revenue.
Most Becker residents weren’t shocked by Xcel Energy’s announcement last week that it’s closing the entire Sherburne County Generating Station by 2030, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. The city was already looking to diversify its economy after the Minneapolis-based utility said it would retire two of the plant’s three generators in the next few years.
Xcel Energy is trying to eliminate all carbon emissions from electric power by 2050 as the company shifts to more renewable sources of energy, including wind and solar.
Nagy Attia has owned Coach House Restaurant, which is a few blocks away from the plant, for four years. Attia expressed uncertainty about the plant’s closing.
“You talk about pollution and you talk about the environment. I don’t know if it’s the right decision or not,” he said. “I’m being honest with you. Because coal, you know, it’s very cheap energy.”
Resident Adam Maskowski said he’s unhappy about the plant closing because it contributes to the small city’s success.
“The flip side of it is if it’s something that’s going to invite new businesses and more people to town, then that can be a good thing,” Maskowski said.
Becker Mayor Tracy Bertram noted that new development and businesses are coming to town as the city transitions away from the fossil fuel.
Xcel Energy is planning to build a smaller natural gas plant at the site of the Becker plant, which will preserve about 150 jobs.
Google has proposed building a $600 million data center in the city, a project which would employ about 50 workers. Meanwhile, Northern Metal Recycling is constructing a new recycling facility near the plant.
“I think that a lot of the citizens are hopeful about what is going to be happening, that they’re focused there instead of the doom and gloom,” Bertram said.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org