Letter: Council wants to work with XcelRed Wing has a long-standing relationship with the Prairie Island nuclear plant and looks forward to working cooperatively and constructively to resolve common concerns.
By: Red Wing City Council, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
Red Wing has a long-standing relationship with the Prairie Island nuclear plant and looks forward to working cooperatively and constructively to resolve common concerns.
Since the opening of the plant, we have worked together to develop a thorough Nuclear Emergency Response Plan to ensure local governmental units and agencies are staffed, trained, equipped and prepared. The plan, exercises and Nuclear Regulatory Commission evaluations assure the community that adequate steps have been taken and adequate resources are available in the unlikely event of an incident at the plant.
The city has accepted the unique risks, responsibilities, obligations and additional costs of hosting a nuclear plant. In exchange, the community has benefited from the plant’s tax and employment base and has received a limited annual financial contribution to assist in emergency preparedness.
The city continues to support the plant, its employees, and the use of nuclear energy as an efficient, reliable and affordable energy source.
The City Council and mayor support Xcel Energy's certificates of need application with certain conditions and wish to work with Xcel to address the following emerging concerns.
• Long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel
This must be addressed during proceedings under way at the Public Utilities Commission as Xcel has requested additional on-site storage. We propose creating a working group — consisting of city, Xcel and state representatives — to develop a statewide plan for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel.
• Increasing the plant's generating capacity or up-rate
The city believes there is an elevated risk associated with increasing energy output at this facility, which is more than 35 years old. If license extensions are approved, it will operate for an additional 20 years.
Xcel needs to provide assurances to protect the community's interests in the event of an occurrence. Although no specific solution has been identified, we feel confident we can work together to create one.
• Compensating for diminishing resources
The city has significant concerns regarding its diminishing ability to address the unique obligations we have as a host city to a nuclear plant and protecting the environmental, social, safety and economic interests of the community.
Due to $13 million in annual property tax reductions at the plant since 1995 and significant reductions to state-paid local government aids being proposed by the governor, we are concerned about our ongoing ability to provide adequate emergency response staffing, training, equipment and preparedness required for a larger, aging plant.
As the elected representatives of Red Wing's residents and business owners, we ask Xcel to consider our concerns so we can build upon and expand the productive relationship we've had to ensure a vibrant future for all concerned.
Red Wing City Council
John Howe, mayor