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In October 2016, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a proposal from Xcel Energy Corporation to decommission two of the three coal-fired generating units located at the Becker, MN Sherco County Energy Station (“Sherco”). With the proposed plan of decommissioning Units 2 and 1, in 2023 and 2026, respectively, the overall number of jobs available at the Sherco site will be approximately half. In addition to the reduction in regular employees, a reduction in the number of contractor-based employees will be reduced by about 50%. Using a conservative estimate of each dollar earned turning over three times, the local economic impact of job loss is significant.
During the transition from 2023 to 2026, Xcel Energy will be building a new natural gas-powered unit at Sherco. The new gas facility will retain approximately 10-15 jobs, but still results in a large loss jobs and local tax base. The University of Minnesota Extension Office prepared data that shows for every 100 electric power generation jobs, an additional 227 indirect and induced jobs are created. The loss of 135-150 jobs will have an overwhelmingly negative impact on the local and regional community.
As part of a strategy to mitigate these impacts, several initiatives have already been developed:
The path to not only offset job loss, but also to position Becker and northern Sherburne County to capitalize on their many assets will be a long one, and will almost certainly require substantial consideration of varied costs and benefits, risks and rewards, and must ultimately be guided by public input and a clear vision of the desired future for these communities.
Request for Stakeholder Engagement
The host communities, with support from the Initiative Foundation and several other funders are recruiting a community advisory committee to help review and vet preliminary studies, surface concerns or aspirations, and otherwise support healthy consideration of all stakeholder groups that could be impacted by these efforts. It is anticipated that the group might meet quarterly, most likely at a location in or near Becker, and typically not for more than two hours (at a time and schedule to be determined by the group members). If meeting over lunch or dinner, the meal will be provided.
To suggest a candidate or place your own name in consideration, please submit a note (or email) of introduction, including a paragraph of your background or interest and contact information to Marie Pflipsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail at PO BOX 250, Becker, MN 55308. Meetings will take place approximately quarterly. The next meeting is June 20th. Contact Marie with your interest if you wish to attend.