Electrical trouble shuts down Prairie Island reactor

 Nuclear Generating Plant is seen
Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant is seen from Wakonade Drive in Prairie Island Indian Community in Welch, Minn.
Tom Baker for MPR News | 2022

Minnesota’s Prairie Island nuclear power plant is offline after an electrical problem in one of its units coincided with a planned refueling shutdown in the other.

In a Nuclear Regulatory Commission filing, Xcel Energy said that the Unit 1 reactor at the plant southeast of the Twin Cities automatically shut down on Oct. 19.

Xcel spokesperson Kevin Coss said that there are no concerns with the reactor itself, but an electrical problem between the generator and substation activated safety equipment that stopped the fission process.

Unit 1 tripped off just after crews had shut down Unit 2 for scheduled refueling and maintenance.

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Coss said Xcel is keeping both reactors offline until the replacement of underground cabling is finished. With the plant not producing electricity, crews are able to test the new wiring fully and conduct inspections that can’t be done while the reactors are operating.

The reactors are typically shut down every other year for refueling.

Coss said the shutdown has not affected service to customers because Xcel is making up for the lost production by increasing capacity at its other generating stations and by purchasing power from other providers.

He said that both Prairie Island reactors are expected to return to service in January.