$4 million payment coming to city next week

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With Xcel Energy’s purchase of Benson Power, LLC, finalized last Friday, the City of Benson is now scheduled to receive a $4 million payment next week for future economic development efforts.

Another $16 million in payments is to follow on June 1 over the next three years. In each 2019 and 2020, the city is scheduled to receive $6 million in payments. It is to get a final $3 million payment bringing the total of the four payments to $19 million.

Those funds are intended to be used to replace the loss the city will experience in jobs, economic activity and local tax base due to Xcel’s plans to shut down Benson Power and level the site.

When it was fully operational, Benson Power employed 45 people and supported more than 100 other jobs related to supplying it with goods and services. When the plant was being proposed for construction back in the early 2000s, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development estimated it would mean an $8 to $10 million economic boost to the area’s economy annually.

This year, Benson Power is paying $765,142 in local real estate taxes with the City of Benson receiving $418,833 – one-quarter of the city’s tax levy. Xcel Energy has agreed to pay those real estate taxes for another two years after the plant is removed, but by then if the city has not replaced the lost tax base, it is going to be either cutting services or raising taxes. However, the payments total another $1.53 million for local governemnts.

Xcel could start demolition of the plant late this fall or early next year....


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