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Near billion-dollar investment to bring hydroelectric power to region

Map showing "Hydrogen Hubs" proposed by the Biden Administration in October of 2023.
U.S. Department of Energy
Map showing "Hydrogen Hubs" proposed by the Biden Administration in October of 2023.

Hydrogen power, a clean energy source, is a major focus for the Biden Administration. Now, just under a billion dollars have been approved to bring carbon-free electric generation to the Upper Midwest.

The administration recently created seven “hydrogen hubs” in regions across the nation. Their goal is to diversify the power grid and integrate renewables sooner than later.

Minnesota-based Xcel Energy is the recipient of a federal contract for the so-called “Heartland” region – which includes the Dakotas and Minnesota.

Vice president of clean fuels Greg Chamberlain said this is an investment looking towards the future.

“These awards are really set up to spark a transformation in our energy economy, to make hydrogen possible in various regions around the country," Chamberlain said. "Hydrogen offers great promise as a carbon-free energy resource, and we want to see that happen.”

Chamberlain said it’s a step forward for the grid.

"We’ll be producing hydrogen – Xcel Energy – and we can decarbonize our power production and gas systems with that," Chamberlain said. "We can use it for carbon-free electric generation. We can also sell it to other industries who might make products like sustainable aviation fuel or green ammonia fertilizer that’s carbon-free.”

He said Xcel doesn’t want to pigeon-hole all the developments, and jobs, in one place.

“We’re currently awaiting treasury rules on what the production tax credit rules are going to be," Chamberlain said. "That’s really going to help us pinpoint which assets are going to be most economic. In South Dakota we have wind assets we think are excellent candidates for the production of green hydrogen – we just have to make sure the treasury rules come out right.”

Funding will be provided over the next decade for planning, construction and implementation.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture