The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved an application by Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) to increase the output of the Monticello nuclear plant in Minnesota, the company said Dec. 10.
“The Monticello nuclear plant currently generates about 10 percent of the electricity we provide customers in our Upper Midwest service territory, and it’s carbon-free energy,” said Dave Sparby, president and CEO, Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company.
Within about a month, plant operators will begin slowly increasing power at small intervals to ensure everything is operating as designed. In addition to the license amendment, Xcel Energy awaits an NRC decision in spring 2014 that will allow more operator flexibility before the plant ascends to the full 671 MW.
The Monticello plant, which is about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, began operation in 1970 under a 40-year license from the NRC. The NRC subsequently approved a 20-year operating license extension. The plant currently generates enough electricity to power nearly a half million homes.
Monticello is a boiling water reactor (BWR) in Wright County, Minn.
Xcel applied to the NRC for the Monticello extended power uprate license amendment in November 2008. The company had also looked at a power uprate for Prairie Island but has been reconsidering that move.