Moving Minnesota Beyond Coal – Winona Forum

by Amanda Tussing, Clean Energy Intern

This summer, the Sierra Club is engaging Xcel customers in a discussion about Minnesota’s energy future, and specifically the future of Sherco! The Sherco coal plant is Minnesota’s largest carbon and soot polluter, as well as one of the top emitters of toxic mercury and sulfur dioxide pollution.  Replacing Sherco 1&2 with renewable energy and energy conservation will help protect our climate, as well as our health and economy while creating good paying jobs in the state.

In order to build support for moving beyond coal at Sherco, the Sierra Club, with the sponsorship of Winona State University’s Environmental Club, traveled to Winona on Wednesday July 17th.  Winona is a beautiful southeastern Minnesota town surrounded by bluffs along the Mississippi River, and a town that is currently being affected by frac sand mining.  The community members are Xcel customers, many whom would like to see community solar gardens installed in order to use the renewable energy towards their electricity bills.   

 Jessica Tritsch, Senior Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club, began the presentation by talking about the health and environmental impacts of burning coal. Howard Kruger, wind developer consultant for Nordex USA, and Tim Gulden, certified solar PV installer for Winona Renewable Energy talked about the opportunities of clean energy – including wind, solar, and energy efficiency – and how Minnesota is already on a path toward clean energy.  

We ended the forum by asking community members to get involved by signing a petition urging the Public Utilities Commission to require Xcel to plan to replace Sherco 1&2 with clean energy, writing a letter to the PUC, and continuing to volunteer to move Minnesota away from coal and towards clean energy. After the presentation we had a great discussion with the more than 30 attendees!

You can weigh in too! Write a letter to the Public Utilities Commission calling on them to require Xcel Energy to plan to replace Sherco 1&2 with cleahn energy, especially wind, solar and energy efficiency. Send an e-mail to, include the reason you care about the issue along with your name and address, and include PUC Docket 13-368 in the subject line.

Interested in getting involved in the Beyond Coal to Clean Energy campaign? Sign the online petition to replace Sherco with clean energy or volunteer at an upcoming event.

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