As the world scrambles to meet the growing demand for energy, a nuclear power plant in Minnesota is asking for state and federal regulatory approval to expand its capacity.

Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear plant wants to increase its electrical generating capacity from 585 to 655 megawatts. The first phase of the upgrade would happen in 2009 and the final phase in 2011.

Xcel says that the jump in output would not require any physical growth in the facility.

The public is invited to comment Thursday at 7 p.m. at a state Department of Commerce meeting in Monticello at the River City Extreme sports bar, 3875 School Boulevard.

Despite a futile national search for a permanent national waste site for spent fuel, nuclear power increasingly is being regarded as a clean-burning alternative to fossil-fuel-powered plants. Oil and coal-fired plants emit carbon dioxide, contributing to greenhouse gases and global warming.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482