Allete Inc. subsidiary Minnesota Power on Tuesday announced a goal to deliver 100% carbon-free energy to customers by the year 2050.

Utilizing its EnergyForward strategy, Minnesota Power was the state’s first utility to provide 50% renewable energy to its customers and seeks to build upon that as it transitions to “clean energy.” 

The upcoming Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would outline the future steps the utility would need to take over the period of the next 15 years. The utility plans to submit the IRP to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) on Feb. 1.

Under the IRP, Minnesota Power would identify plans to increase its renewable energy supply to 70% by 2030 and phase out coal completely by 2035. These include the addition of around 400 MW of solar and wind energy and the transformation of the 468 MW Boswell Energy Center Unit 4 into a coal-free energy center. It also plans to retire the 335 MW Unit 3 Boswell Energy Center and invest in a resilient and flexible transmission and distribution grid.

“We are proud to be the first Minnesota utility to provide 50 percent renewable energy, but as we said when we reached this exciting milestone in December, our transformation to a sustainable energy future is not yet complete,” said Allete CEO Bethany Owen. “As a clean energy leader, we are meeting the challenge of climate change with a reliable energy supply while keeping costs affordable for customers in this region.”

Minnesota Power is aiming to reach by 2035 an 80% reduction in carbon emissions in comparison to its 2005 levels, which would achieve the state’s goal for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 15 years in advance.

After the IRP is submitted in February, the MPUC would begin gathering input from customers, organizations and communities. A final decision is expected later this year. 

Minnesota Power, once 95% reliant on coal for energy, has closed or converted seven of its nine coal-fired units and added almost 900 MW of renewable energy sources since 2013.

“For Minnesota Power, this plan is about more than achieving the most significant sustainability goal in our long history – it is about becoming 100 percent carbon-free the right way,” Owen said. “Our diverse customer base relies on us to continue to provide reliable and affordable energy.”

The utility said it is critically important that its transition to carbon-free energy takes into account the “needs of our employees and the residents of communities that have hosted our generation plants,” the CEO said. “By embracing this vision, Minnesota Power and our employees will continue to support the quality of life that has made our residents, businesses and community organizations choose this region as their home.”