Xcel investing $1.8bn on nuclear power plants

Monticello nuclear power plant Prairie Island nuclear power plant Minnesota Xcel Energy uprates upgrades Star Tribune

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is planning $1.8 billion in investments in two nuclear reactors that will extend the lives of the facilities as well as boost power output, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The company will spend $280 million to replace two steam generators at its Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, Minn. this fall, according to the report. The company also plans on spending $600 million at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Station in Monticello, Minn. to improve safety and increase the plant’s output by around 13 percent.

Xcel Regional Vice President Laura McCarten said the company is facing “a lot of spending to extend life another 20 years,” the Star Tribune reported. McCarten also said nuclear power will continue to play a part in the company’s clean energy strategy, noting that half the electricity Xcel produces for customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota is carbon-free.

"I think it's a good sign that a utility that has cost of service plants as well as merchant plants sees the benefits of nuclear," said Dr. Michael Corradini, president of the American Nuclear Society. "Xcel is in that category, where they service that area under Northern States Power, and they have cost of service and power purchase agreements, which allow them the flexibility to invest in their future."

Representatives of the company have said the new steam generators being installed at Prairie Island will not have issues with the same problems that ultimately caused the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear power station in California, according to the report.

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