Xcel re-evaluating Prairie Island uprateXcel Energy is pausing to re-evaluate a proposed capacity expansion at Prairie Island nuclear plant in light of rising costs and delays, officials said Thursday.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Xcel Energy is pausing to re-evaluate a proposed capacity expansion at Prairie Island nuclear plant in light of rising costs and delays, officials said Thursday.
“The continuing economic downturn and updated project cost estimates have led us to conclude that certain adjustments to our plans are appropriate at this time,” Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, said in a statement.
Xcel submitted updates to its resource plan to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and North Dakota Public Service Commission. The document is a 15-year plan describing how the company proposes to meet customer energy needs in a cost effective and environmentally responsible way.
For Prairie Island, the future of the uprate is unclear given recent issues, officials said.
“While our current analysis suggests the proposed capacity upgrade at Prairie Island remains cost effective, longer than anticipated federal reviews and updated cost information prompt us to seek concurrence from stakeholders that the project should proceed,” Poferl said.
Xcel wants to review the details before taking on two expensive parts of the uprate program – completing the licensing process and making equipment commitments — officials said.
The plant was recently relicensed with new expiration dates for the two reactors of 2033 and 2034, but the uprate would require a license amendment.
In its plan update, Xcel said it has spent more than $60 million to get to this stage in the licensing process and estimates at least another $20 million to complete the process.
Increasing capacity at the plant also would require some new equipment and upgrades.
Officials will analyze the likelihood of cost increases associated with the major components of the project, they said. They’ll also look at similar plants that have done it.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently asked for more detailed design information in the capacity expansion request before it begins its review, officials said, delaying the start of the evaluation.
Xcel plans to provide evaluation results and analysis to the state PUC in mid-2012, officials said. The commission’s review could take several months, they added. The commission will provide notice and invite comments from anyone interested in the matter.
The plan also suggests withdrawing a proposal to expand generation at Black Dog Generating Plant in Burnsville, Minn., until the company determines how to proceed at a future date. However, it also highlights progress in adding wind resources and implementing energy efficiency programs.