One of the largest coal plants in the US will soon be replaced by the nation’s biggest solar farm. Xcel Energy, which wants to generate carbon-free electricity by 2050, has shut down one of three power generating units at Sherburne County Generating Station, Minnesota’s largest power plant, and plans to shutter the other two units in 2026 and 2030. Retiring just one of the units will prevent 3.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere each year - equivalent to taking more than 780,000 cars off the road. The Sherco Solar project will create nearly 400 union construction jobs and bring in an estimated $350 million in local economic benefits but once complete, will need just 18 personnel to operate and maintain it, compared to the roughly 240 people working at the coal plant. So analysts say it’s important to keep talking about how to revitalize coal communities like Becker.

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