Xcel dedicates new power plantby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Xcel Energy is dedicating its new High Bridge power plant today.
The company has replaced an old coal burning plant with a new natural gas plant. The natural gas fires a combustion turbine, similar to a jet engine. And exhaust from the turbine powers a steam generator.
Bill Grant, from the Izaak Walton League, helped push for legislation to allow Xcel to increase rates and recover its costs more quickly.
Grant said Xcel's billion dollar investment in the High Bridge plant and two other plants in the metro area is paying off in cleaner air.
"By converting the plant to burn natural gas, they'll reduce their sulfur dioxide emissions by 90 percent, their ozone emissions by over 90 percent, their mercury emissions by over 90 percent. And on a system-wide basis, the improvements they're making to these three plants reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by over 10 percent," said Grant.
The Izaak Walton League was one of the environmental groups that pushed for legislation to allow Xcel to increase its rates and recover its costs more quickly.
The Ikes' Bill Grant said the High Bridge plant, and other Xcel projects in the metro area, are cutting pollution significantly.
"The health-problem-causing pollutants are being dramatically reduced, and we're getting reductions of greenhouse gases in the bargain," Grant said.
The original plant was built in 1923. Last month Xcel demolished the stack, and the rest of the building will be taken down over the next year.
Combined cycle plants are 30 percent more efficient than traditional steam plants. The new High Bridge plant can supply enough electricity to power almost 375,000 homes.