Work in Progress

Xcel High Bridge Plant:
New life for a former coal yard

Xcel Energy’s new $394 million natural gas plant became operational in May of 2008, located just up-river from Saint Paul’s Smith Avenue “High Bridge.” The sleek new clean-technology plant replaces an old coal-fired facility, a long-standing landmark in the river valley.

As the old plant was being demolished, Xcel Energy began developing plans to restore the riverfront site, focusing on green, open and/or recreational uses.

The Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation has been engaged to work with Xcel, Sanders Wacker Bergly Inc., Great River Greening and others to develop reuse concepts, expected to be completed by mid-2010, coinciding with final grading of the old plant site. Xcel will continue to own the land. The goal is to create a public use for the former industrial site for the next ten to twenty years while Xcel explores their long term needs for the area.

The project size is dependent on where and how the security perimeter for the new plant is established. Approximatley 35 acres of riverfront land could be available for public use. Site design and uses will also be influenced by a thorough understanding of soil engineering and development of a stormwater treatment plan, currently underway.

The green/open space project continues Xcel’s commitment to greening the river valley. In preparation for the new gas-fired power plant, Xcel Energy relocated 63 mature trees from a small urban forest along Saint Paul’s riverfront. The trees had been planted by Xcel and 1300 volunteers in 1997, under the direction of Great River Greening, a nonprofit for community-based conservation. The Riverfront Corporation worked with Xcel Energy, Great River Greening and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation to relocate the trees to parks and parkways throughout the City.

Check back for updates on this important riverside project.

Clockwise from upper left: Former coal yard at Xcel Energy High Bridge site; new Xcel Energy clean-burning natural gas plant at High Bridge site; Proposed new uses for Xcel-owned High Bridge riverfront site include green open space.