Xcel Energy Prairie Island 1 goes offline for refueling

The Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) Prairie Island 1 nuclear unit in Minnesota went offline over the weekend for a planned refueling and maintenance outage, the company said in a news release.

The unit went offline Oct. 15 to perform its regular refueling outage, Xcel Energy said in an Oct. 17 news release. More than 1,000 specialized contractors will assist in conducting this work to replace about one-third of the plant’s fuel and perform key projects that can only be performed during refueling. 

The unit was last refueled in fall 2014.

“Hundreds-of-thousands of hours of work will be completed in the space of about a month,” said Scott Northard, Site Vice President, Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, Xcel Energy. “Our priority is to work safely and work as a team to complete these activities that keep the plant running reliably, which is important to our customers.”

Several major projects will be undertaken to improve plant performance and meet regulatory requirements. Notable projects include:

•Reactor coolant pump replacement – This pump maintains pressure and transfers heat from the reactor for the steam generator, which provides steam to the turbine for electricity generation.

•Large motor and pump replacements – Several large motors are being replaced during the outage, including feed water pumps, cooling water pumps, motor generator and related items.

•Direct current (DC) panel replacement – The panel is a redundant source of electrical power to emergency safety equipment if normal sources of electrical power are lost.

“The upgrades we will make while the unit is offline are investments in the future of Prairie Island, the Red Wing area and the Upper Midwest as a whole,” added Northard. “Delivering carbon-free electricity from our nuclear facilities is a key component of Xcel Energy’s clean energy strategy and will help meet our goal of generating 63% carbon-free electricity in the Upper Midwest by 2030.”

Xcel’s Northern States Power-Minnesota operates the dual-unit Prairie Island nuclear station in Goodhue County, Minnesota. The two units are pressurized water reactors (PWRs) that together can generate more than 1,100 MW.

When both nuclear units are operating, the plant generates enough electricity to power nearly 1 million homes.

Prairie Island 2 continued to run at 100% power on Oct. 18, according to data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.