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Xcel Energy on track to shut down its last coal plant

By 2030, Xcel Energy will close its last coal plant.

And that means the utility will rely on nuclear and renewable power, and natural gas “peaker” plants.

"Nuclear will be very important from a baseload standpoint," Xcel's regulatory manager for North Dakota, Alex Nisbet, told the Legislature's interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee. "And the natural gas peaker plants will be come more important as time goes on."

Xcel is planning to build one of the peaker plants in eastern North Dakota. Nisbet said the peakers would also be used when renewable energy isn't readily available.

"Sometimes, the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow," Nisbet said. "Having nuclear as baseload and more peaker plants, along with more transmission lines, it's all gotta work very well together. "

Nisbet said that's what keeps people at Xcel working as to how to keep the lights on, and keep the power affordable.

As to how much the change may cost consumers, Nesbet said it will likely be relatively small.

"Probably a 0.9 percent increase in rates," Nesbet told lawmakers. "At the national level, it'll be close to 2 percent."

Nisbet said that's well below the inflation rate.

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