Weather Forecast


Election may mean storage at Yucca Mt.

1 / 2
2 / 2

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved Xcel Energy’s long-range plan to deliver nearly 63 percent of energy to Midwest customers via carbon-free sources by 2030.

The PUC’s vote Thursday came the same day Xcel Energy held its annual Red Wing breakfast with community leaders.

Saying he anticipated positive news by Friday, Chris Clark, president of Northern States Power Co. told leaders the plan will more than double Xcel Energy-Minnesota’s renewable energy portfolio. The original 800 megawatts of wind will go up to 1,500. Plus, solar will grow down the line.

“We’re really seeing a tremendous transition to renewable energy and decarbonization of our generation fleet,” he said.

In addition, Xcel will convert two coal-burning plants in Becker County to cleaner burning natural gas in 2023 and 2026.

“You all might be saying, ‘That’s great for Becker, but what about Red Wing and the Prairie Island Indian Community?’” Clark said.

Xcel plans to keep its nuclear plant reactors operating through their current licenses, which are 2030 for Monticello and 2033 and 2034 for the two reactors at Prairie Island.

“This is really a key component to our reliable generation and also to our carbon-free generation,” he said.

Scott Northard, Prairie Island nuclear plant site vice president, spoke briefly about the Unit 1 refueling outage scheduled to begin this weekend. He also said the utility company expects to see congressional action soon on the siting of a federal repository for used radioactive fuel.

Terry Pickens, Xcel’s director of nuclear regulatory policy, provided more detail on removing the radioactive spent fuel from the 40 large steel casks at Prairie Island. During the question-and-answer period, he indicated the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has opened the door for talk of completing Yucca Mountain, the proposed federal repository in that state to store radioactive spent fuel.

“We’ve heard from a number of senators that they want to get Yucca Mountain back on track. They’re going to be looking at hearings come January,” Pickens said.

Both the Nuclear Energy Institute and Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition are working on educational packages for the new Congress, which will start taking shape after Election Day and take its seat after Jan. 1.

Nuclear energy producers also have had two private entities come forward — the Waste Control Alliance in Texas and the Eddy Lea Alliance — for a consolidated waste storage facility in New Mexico. This could lead up to moving spent fuel and eventually placing it permanently at Yucca Mountain,” Pickens said.

“It may start to come together in 2017,” he said.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson is news director with RiverTown Multimedia. 

(651) 301-7870