US-based electric utility company, Xcel Energy has proposed plans to develop $3bn worth accelerated and incremental projects to help Minnesota recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposal is part of the firm’s response to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce request for energy companies to help with job growth and to get the economy on track.

The utility company has submitted its proposal for approval to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

The projects are expected to create approximately 5,000 jobs in the state, while keeping customer bills stable.

Xcel Energy chairman and CEO Ben Fowke said: “COVID-19 put the brakes on our economy, leading to widespread unemployment and we are eager to help Minnesota with our proposal that can help provide the economic jump start our state needs.

“We thank Governor Tim Walz, our regulators and commissioners for the leadership on this issue and remain committed to working with them along with our, communities, policymakers, stakeholders and employees to move these projects forward quickly to help all Minnesotans.”

The proposal includes rebuilding aging wind farms across the state

The plans include a sped-up construction of up to 460MW solar project in near proximity to its Sherco coal plant in Becker, Minnesota.

Once operational, the project is expected generate sufficient electricity to supply over 240,000 households annually, while using existing transmission infrastructure.

The firm is also planning to rebuild the aging wind farms and install additional wind power capacity across the state, which is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs in the state, use veteran and minority-owned businesses in the process.

It has proposed to expand energy conservation initiatives that could consist  direct rebate payments to customers,

Xcel Energy is also looking to make investments in transmission, distribution, natural gas and electric vehicle infrastructure projects, including building electric vehicle charging stations for fleets and the public.

In September last year, the company collaborated with EVRAZ North America and Lightsource BP for the development of a 240MW solar project in Pueblo, Colorado.