Coal delivery issues in La Crosse cause fuel shortage

CREATED Aug 2, 2014

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Coal delivery issues are causing a fuel shortage at one of Minnesota's largest electricity generators.

The La Crosse Tribune reports Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke wrote a letter dated July 23 to the federal Surface Transportation Board, saying rail carrier BNSF has fallen behind on coal deliveries to the 2,500-megawatt Sherco plant. It generates nearly a quarter of the electricity Xcel delivers in a five-state Midwest region.

Xcel Energy is urging the board to focus on urging railroads to reduce a shipping backlog that could "impact the reliability of our electric grid."

BNSF is the sole rail service to the plant. Problems have left Xcel some 811,000 tons short of its ideal fuel inventory.

BNSF has attributed delays to harsh winter weather and a surge in freight volume.