Allen S. King power plant celebrates 50th anniversary

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The Allen S. King power plant, a coal power plant run by Xcel Energy, marked 50 years of operation on Thursday, Sept. 6, in Oak Park Heights.

The celebration was attended by Xcel Energy leadership, including Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, plant director Brian Behm, Oak Park Heights Mayor Mary McComber, members of the Stillwater and Hudson chambers of commerce, and current and retired plant employees.

Mayor McComber remarked on the sense of familiarity she feels when returning home from travel and seeing the plant's smokestack rising above the treeline.

"As soon as I see the stack, I know I'm almost home," she said.

McComber also noted the efforts by the plant to make a home for peregrine falcons and other birds, including ospreys and bald eagles. After employees spotted falcons at the plant in 1989, nest boxes were installed. In 1997, the first “bird cam” was put in to monitor the falcon nests. According to the company’s website, the King plant has produced over 1,000 peregrine falcon chicks.

The power plant was named after former president and chairman Allen S. King of Northern States Power Company, a predecessor to Xcel Energy. Construction started in 1965, and the plant began operating in 1968.