Power Plant Transition in Host Communities

Audrey Partridge, Brady Steigauf

Project Update

The final report is now available. Download it here. 

The study's findings and conclusions included the following:

  • Power plant closures will undoubtedly have a strong economic and financial impact on the communities that host them, and potentially, other Minnesota communities as well.
  • Host communities are currently pursuing a variety of strategies to plan and prepare for power plant closures and the economic transition that they will require. None of those preparation strategies are expected to fully offset the economic impact of a plant closure, but they may help mitigate the negative effects. 
  • Workers, labor unions, and host communities may benefit from close coordination and communication in plant closure transition planning and preparation efforts. 
  • Not all of Minnesota’s host communities receive benefits from the power plant they host.

The University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business recently published a complementary economic modeling study on the impact of power plant closures on host communities. Download it here. 


Why This Research Is Needed

Minnesota’s energy economy is evolving, new renewable technologies are emerging, and much of our current electric infrastructure is reaching retirement age. As a result, the sources of our energy will change — retiring power plants will not necessarily be replaced with new ones — and that will affect the economies of the communities who host retiring plants. Communities that are home to large power plants receive a large portion of their tax base, economic vitality, and local jobs from the plants. As Minnesota moves away from central, fossil fuel plants, these host communities face an unprecedented transition.

This study sought to illustrate the impact of this shift on six Minnesota communities that host power plants. Collectively, these six communities host approximately 3,800 MW of coal and 1,700 MW of nuclear generation. The five power plants in these communities generate approximately 70% of Minnesota's current electricity supply. 

Project Process and Outcomes

CEE partnered with the Coalition of Utility Cities, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, and representatives from each of the six communities to study the economic and social impacts that these power plants have on the communities that host them, as well as the potential effects of the plants’ retirements. 

This study included information gathered through interviews and a questionnaire to assess the role these power plants play in people's lives. This study can be used as a part of a larger strategy to enable these communities to successfully navigate the transition away from fossil fuels and the eventual retirement of these power plants. 

This study was funded by the Just Transition Fund; the Coalition of Utility Cities; the Initiative Foundation, a regional foundation; the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation; the West Central Initiative Fund; Xcel Energy; and Center for Energy and Environment. 

Project Info

Quantify and analyze the economic and social impact that power plants have on Minnesotan communities that host them.

Non-Energy Benefits
Kickstart a broader strategy to help communities navigate their transition from fossil fuels and the eventual retirement of the power plants they host.

​Project Contacts
Audrey Partridge
Brady Steigauf

Related Links
FINAL REPORT: Minnesota's Power Plant Communities: An uncertain future

UC Boulder: Xcel Energy —Minnesota Utility Economic Impact Study

​UC Boulder:
Minnesota Power — Minnesota Utility Economic Impact Study