Built in 1923 as a coal-powered operation, the High Bridge plant, along with Riverside in Minneapolis, once formed the hub of Northern States Power Company, a predecessor to Xcel Energy. The original plant was replaced with a new natural gas fired generating facility starting in 2005 as part of Xcel Energy's Metro Emission Reduction Project. The coal-fired plant was retired in 2007 and the new facility came on line in May 2008. (High Bridge Generating Station)
One interesting feature about the location is that High Bridge gets its name from the bridge that crosses the Mississippi River just yards from the plant. The plant site once was home to early residents of St. Paul-many of them immigrants, who settled in shantytowns along the river. By converting from coal to natural gas the plant has significantly reduced all air emissions from the plant-particulates by about 92%, nitrogen oxide by almost 97%, sulfur dioxide by 99% and 100% of mercury emissions. High Bridge also has been a major sponsor and participant in the Mississippi riverfront greening project in downtown St. Paul that involved the planting of hundreds of trees and shrubs. (High Bridge Generating Station)
Before construction, while still in the permit process Xcel energy held public meetings and hearings locally. The result of those meetings was a surprising support for the new power plant. The major area of concern voiced during these meetings was blending the new facility into the Mississippi River Corridor as naturally as possible, including vegetation and appearance of the buildings.
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