Xcel Energy announced today that it has received the necessary approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to extend operations of the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant through 2040.
The approval is a major step toward continuing to provide reliable, carbon-free energy for more than 500,000 customers across the Upper Midwest while meeting the state's carbon reduction goals.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Xcel Energy's application to allow increased storage of spent nuclear fuel at the site, opening the door for at least 10 more years of operation.
"We thank the Commission, Minnesota Department of Commerce and other stakeholders for their careful review and recognition of the importance of the Monticello nuclear plant to our shared clean energy goals," said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy – Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. "Nuclear power is crucial to achieving those goals because of its unique combination of reliability, affordability, and zero emissions."
Together, the company's Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants provide more than 30% of the electricity that the company's customers use in the Upper Midwest. In 2022, the two plants together produced nearly 14,700 gigawatt hours of energy, a record for the sites. They're among the company's most reliable generating facilities, and key to reaching Minnesota's goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.
As part of extending the use of the Monticello plant, Xcel Energy has also filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to request an extension of the plant's operating license. The federal license review and approval process is extensive, and a decision from federal regulators is expected in late 2024.
In addition to the environmental benefits of nuclear power, the Monticello plant also provides a significant economic boost to the local community. The plant is Monticello's largest employer and local taxpayer, and it supports hundreds of businesses and jobs in the region.
"The Commission's decision helps ensure many high-quality jobs in our local community for years to come," said Marcy Anderson, executive director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "The economic impact is tremendous. Workers live, shop and dine locally, contributing to a thriving Monticello community."
The approval of the Monticello plant extension is a major victory for Xcel Energy and for the clean energy movement. It shows that nuclear power can be a key part of the solution to climate change, while also providing reliable and affordable energy to communities across the country.
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