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Xcel's plan to drop Prairie Island upgrade is approved

  • Article by: David Shaffer
  • November 1, 2012 - 10:55 AM

Minnesota utility regulators on Thursday agreed that Xcel Energy needn’t go ahead with a $237 million power-boosting upgrade at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant.

The Minneapolis-based utility says the project to increase power output by 12 percent no longer is a good deal for customers, and should be scrapped.

In a procedural step, the state Public Utilities Commission gave anyone who objects to dropping the project 15 days to say so. If that happens, further regulatory review of the matter would be needed.

Commissioner Betsy  Wergin said everyone seems to agree on cancelling the project. “Let’s just do it,” she said before the 5-0 vote.

Xcel had installed bigger fuel rods to the twin reactors in expectation of increasing their output. But they  offered  an unexpected savings -- in the form of longer times between refueling. Xcel said that benefits ratepayers almost as much as the power upgrade.

Xcel also has said the economic benefits of the power-boosting upgrade could get worse if there are delays in obtaining safety-related approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Each of the two units at the plant generates power for about 500,000 homes.

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