Minnesota Power plans to go 100% carbon-free by 2050

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's second-largest utility announced Tuesday that it plans to provide customers 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.

Duluth-based Minnesota Power, which serves about 145,000 homes and businesses in the state's northeast, said it will show its plan for the next 15 years to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

“It’s really fulfilling our commitment to the climate, our customers and our communities,” said Bethany Owen, utility president and CEO.

A decade ago, the company had been producing most of its electricity from coal, which worsens climate change, according to Minnesota Public Radio. But since then, the utility shuttered seven of its nine coal-operated generating units. The company also invested in wind farms and hydroelectric facilities in Canada.

Minnesota Power now generates about 30% of its electricity from its two remaining coal-fired generators at the Boswell Energy Center in Cohasset. The company said it plans to be at 70% come 2030 by adding 400 megawatts of new wind and solar generation.

Owen said she hopes the state OKs her plans by end of the year.

“To ensure that we’re meeting our responsibility to our customers, and our communities and our employees, this plan lays out a thoughtful timeframe,” Owen said. “It allows the time and the technology to develop to ensure that we’re doing it right.”