Xcel requests extensions on nuclear plant licenses

Prairie Island nuclear plant
The Prairie Island nuclear power plant near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota.
MPR file photo/Erin Galbally

Xcel Energy is applying to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for permission to produce nearly 10 percent more power at Prairie Island.

The company is also applying to extend the licenses of its two reactors there for 20 years. The plant's current licenses expire in 2013 and 2014.

Mike Wadley, Xcel's site vice president at Prairie Island, says the company will need to add 35 containers for spent fuel. There are already 24 containers at the site.

He says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed operating licenses of half of the 100 nuclear plants in the country.

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Wadley says in spite of political opposition, the federal government is moving to set up permanent storage at Yucca Mountain.

"The health of the environment from continued use of nuclear power in our country is going to cross the political aisle, and come to some common ground that we need some solution for waste," said Wadley.

The Legislature could review the storage issue. Xcel hopes its applications will be approved by 2010.

Xcel officials say the Prairie Island plant generates about 20 percent of the electricity used by Upper Midwest customers.