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Continued: Xcel defends expensive nuclear upgrade

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 19, 2013 - 11:11 AM

Yet another work-in-progress decision added $61 million in expense to fully replace, rather than just upgrade, a system that filters minerals from reactor water. Issues with feed pumps and motors added another $77 million, the company said.

Xcel said upgrading the plant, where radiation risk is present, turned out to be far more complicated than building from scratch. Workers had to cram themselves into tight spaces to replace equipment originally installed before the plant’s concrete walls went up. In some cases, workers had to use a mirror to make welds they couldn’t see directly.

“In a new plant, you can wear your normal clothes,” Xcel’s chief nuclear officer, Timothy O’Connor, said in an interview. “In a plant that has been operating you have to wear protective clothing and deal with radiological conditions.”

O’Connor said no workers received excessive doses of radiation, however.

State regulators will take months to pore over the Monticello report, and business, government and consumer interests likely will weigh in. Xcel investors have a big stake, because the company is entitled to a return on prudent investments.

The PUC’s investigation will take place at the same time that Xcel is preparing to again ask to raise Minnesota electric rates. Xcel executives declined to talk about it in detail except to say the remaining Monticello costs will be included.

 

David Shaffer • 612-673-7090 Twitter: @ShafferStrib

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