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Mercury Reduction Projects

We're working to reduce power plant mercury emissions

We are working to reduce power plant mercury emissions by:

  • Participating with state and federal regulators to establish and implement mercury rules and regulations
  • Advancing research on emerging mercury control technologies through testing at our facilities and have twice received awards from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for these efforts
  • Improving the way we monitor and report mercury emissions – Xcel Energy is one of the first utilities in the country to install continuous emission monitoring systems for mercury at several power plants
  • Installing mercury controls at our power plants

Mercury emissions from our power plants are reported annually through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory database.

Resources for mercury emissions and reduction efforts:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (external link)

Edison Electric Institute (external link)

Electric Power Research Institute (external link)

Colorado Mercury Reduction Plans

We have worked with the environmental community, state regulators, and other utilities in Colorado to develop new state air quality rules around mercury emission monitoring and control. All coal-fired units in Colorado were required to monitor mercury and begin reporting emissions to the state in 2009. On units that qualify as low mercury emitters, emissions can be calculated based on semi-annual testing. The following Xcel Energy plants in Colorado qualify as low emitters: Valmont StationCherokee Station Units 1, 2, 3 and 4; and Hayden Station Units 1 and 2. No monitoring is required at our Arapahoe Station because the plant is scheduled for retirement.

Under new Colorado rules, mercury emission controls capable of achieving at least 80 percent capture are installed at the following Xcel Energy power plants:

Power Plant Control In-service Date
Comanche Station - Pueblo, Colo. 2008
Pawnee Station - Brush, Colo. 2012

Minnesota Mercury Reduction Plans

In Minnesota, legislation is in place that targets mercury emission reduction through mercury control plans. In December 2007, Xcel Energy filed a plan with state regulatory agencies to reduce mercury emissions by up to 90 percent on select units at our Allen S. King and Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Plants. After state regulators approved our plan, we added mercury controls on Sherco Unit 3 in 2009 and on Allen S. King Unit 1 in 2010. Controls are installed and operating on both units. The combination of existing air pollution controls and the new mercury controls result in removal of about 90 percent of mercury in the coal. In December 2009, we filed a plan for Sherco Units 1 and 2 that proposed installation of mercury controls on Sherco Units 1 and 2 by 2014 to reduce mercury emissions by up to 90 percent. Wet scrubbers on Sherco 1 and 2 already remove more than 40 percent of the mercury in the coal, and this schedule will enable us to test emerging technologies we believe to be compatible with portions of our existing wet scrubbers, as well as new emerging multi-pollutant systems. Both approaches have the potential to do a better and more cost-effective job of reducing emissions.

TRI reporting for individual Minnesota Generating Plants (PDF)

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