Xcel files to renew Prairie Island nuke plant licensePrairie Island nuclear plant filed Tuesday morning to renew its operating license for up to 20 more years.
By: Amber Mensen, RiverTown Newspaper Group
Prairie Island nuclear plant filed Tuesday morning to renew its operating license for up to 20 more years.
License renewal opens opportunities for new capital investment, thereby improving the tax base for the area, said Mike Wadley, site vice president for the plant.
“This really keeps 600-plus jobs in play for an additional 20 years here in the community,” Wadley said.
Xcel Energy, which owns the plant, plans to seek additional megawatts at Prairie Island, plus possible replacement of the Unit 2 steam generators, Wadley said.
“There are some capacity enhancements we can do with a license renewal that we cannot justify from a business perspective otherwise,” Wadley said.
The replacement cost for the Unit 2 steam generators would be more than $200 million, he added.
Licenses for Prairie Island’s two reactor units will expire in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Unit 1 began operating in December 1973, and Unit 2 followed in December 1974.
The application for renewal was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by Nuclear Management Company, which is the plant’s licensed operator on behalf of Xcel.
“When we submit this renewal application, the NRC checks it for completeness and accuracy,” Wadley said. “In six to eight weeks, they’ll let us know if it’s sufficient.”
There are two parts to the license renewal, Wadley said, review of safety issues and an environmental review.
A draft of the environmental impact statement will be available for public comment, followed by a public meeting to discuss the findings.
A typical license renewal review takes about 22 months, Wadley said.
There are 104 operating reactors in the United States, Wadley said, most of which are expected to file for renewal. Forty-eight have had their licenses renewed, including Monticello, which is also owned by Xcel Energy.
Each reactor at Prairie Island has a capacity of 538 megawatts. The total plant output of 1,076 megawatts is enough to power about 1 million homes, according to Xcel Energy.