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Why do our products and services differ based on state? Because our business is regulated by state. We have regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. The different regulatory body for each state we serve determines what products and services we deliver in that state.
Nuclear energy is America’s largest source of clean-air, carbon-free electricity, producing no greenhouse gases. The nuclear industry’s commitment to the environment extends to protecting wildlife and their habitats.
Xcel Energy owns and operates two nuclear power plants, Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant near Monticello, Minn., and Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant near Red Wing, Minn., which produce nearly 30 percent of the electricity we provide to customers in the Upper Midwest.
In Minnesota, Xcel Energy’s nuclear power plants help us avoid producing hundreds of millions of tons of green house gases during their operating lives. And our analysis shows that extending the operating licenses for the Monticello and Prairie Island plants for 20 years will save Minnesota electricity customers more than $1 billion.
As an integral part of the U.S. energy mix, nuclear power is a secure energy source that the nation can depend on. Nuclear power plants generate electricity uninterrupted for extended periods—as long as 24 months. They help supply the necessary level of base-load power for the electricity transmission network, or grid, to operate. (Base-load plants are the system’s backbone, providing reliable, low-cost power 24 hours a day, seven days a week.) Nuclear power plants are a key element in the stability of our country's electricity grid.
Along with coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, nuclear plants are the workhorses of the U.S. electricity system. Nuclear plants produce nearly 20 percent of our nation’s electricity. They are the lowest-cost producers of base-load electricity in terms of operating, maintenance and fuel costs.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted renewed operating licenses Monday, June 27, 2011 for Prairie Island 1 and 2 for 20 years. The original licenses were set to expire in 2013 and 2014. Learn more about Prairie Island's operating license renewal in the following links below.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in November 2006 renewed the Monticello Nuclear Plant’s operating license allowing plant operations to be extended for an additional 20 years. The plant entered the extended operating period in September 2010 and can now operate until 2030.
To accommodate operations to 2030, Xcel Energy gained approval from Minnesota regulators for expanded on-site storage of used nuclear fuel using up to 30 dry storage containers at the Monticello plant site (Docket No. 05-123). The dry storage facility was built in 2008, and it currently houses 10 containers of used fuel.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in January 2009 approved our request to expand generating capacity at the Monticello plant (Docket Nos. 07-1567 and 08-185). Nuclear Regulatory Commission action on the request is pending. If approved by the NRC, the project will increase the 600-megawatt plant’s electricity generating capacity by 71 megawatts.
After seeking to withdraw the federal government’s application for a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, President Obama appointed the bi-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to evaluate policy options for used fuel management. The commission is to make final recommendations by January 2012.
Xcel Energy is among utilities that have sued the U.S. Department of Energy for its failure to begin disposing of used nuclear fuel by a January 1998 deadline, as required by contracts. In 2007, a judge ruled in the company’s favor, and a second lawsuit is pending.
Watch the video about the replacement steam generators for the Prairie Island nuclear power plant on the last leg of its international voyage from France to Red Wing, MN.