Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) -  Rochester-based Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency is joining the growing movement in the energy industry to announce a plan that will significantly lower its CO2 emissions.

The power wholesaler says the major source of its energy is scheduled to shut down permanently in ten years. SMMPA owns 41% of the 900-megawatt Sherco 3 coal-fired generating unit in Becker, Minnesota. SMMPA has adopted a plan to replace the power from that plant primarily with wind and solar generation. This will result in a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels and 80% carbon-free energy on an annual basis in 2030.

“We have a unique opportunity to reimagine SMMPA and are excited to take the Agency in this new direction,” said Dave Geschwind, Executive Director and CEO. “We will be taking our commitment to sustainability to a new level while maintaining our legacy of reliability and affordability.”

Natural gas and other non-coal fossil-fueled generation will continue to play an important role in maintaining reliability for SMMPA’s members. SMMPA expects these facilities to provide a relatively small percentage of its energy needs on an annual basis, but to continue to facilitate the increase in intermittent renewable resources, like wind and solar, while maintaining reliability and affordability.

Geschwind cautions that there are still important decisions to be made. “While we are optimistic that technological breakthroughs are on the horizon, the cost of achieving the last 10-20% reduction in carbon emissions in the power sector is currently projected to be prohibitively high with today’s technology. We believe society will need to evaluate whether further reductions beyond 80% in this sector are the most economical and practical path to deep carbon reductions economy-wide.”

SMMPA's members include Rochester, Austin, Owatonna, Blooming Prairie, Lake City, Preston, Wells, Waseca and Spring Valley.

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