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Xcel Energy closes Bayport plant

An explosion and fire caused Xcel Energy officials to shut down production at the Allen S. King plant in Bayport Monday morning.

Xcel Energy spokesman Patti Nystuen said no one was injured in the incident that started in the crusher building on the plant's property. There were 18 employees working at the plant at the time of the fire, Nystuen said, and none were in the vicinity of the crusher building at the time.

Coal brought to the plant for energy production is crushed in the crusher building before being taken into the plant, Nystuen said. "It's a separate building from the plant itself," she said. The building runs 24 hours a day whenever the plant is in operation, Nystuen said, but it uses a mostly unmanned, automated process.

The call went to emergency personnel at 5 a.m. Monday, March 10, that there had been an explosion and fire on the property.

Although steam could still be seen billowing from the stack on the plant by Monday afternoon, Nystuen said no new energy was being made there today.

"We did shut down the plant. It takes a while for the plant to power down," she said Monday afternoon in a phone interview.

The cause of the small explosion and fire were unknown as of Monday afternoon, Nystuen said. The plant was expected to remain closed until the investigation was complete, but Nystuen said there was no indication as to when it would reopen.

Customers should not notice any disruption of service to their homes and area businesses because of the Bayport plant going offline, Nystuen said. "In cases like this we ramp up production at our other plants like Monticello or Prairie Island or, if it's needed, we can purchase power from other suppliers."