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Xcel plan calls for keeping plant open until at least 2040

Monticello nuclear power facility is key to company's future

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Monticello Nuclear Power Plant vignette

Xcel Energy’s future plans for the Monticello nuclear power plant became more clear on Monday, May 20.

The plant is licensed to operate through 2030.

But on July 1 when Xcel Energy files its Upper Midwest Energy Plan, the company will seek approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for two 10-year operating extensions.

That means the Monticello nuclear power plant could operate an additional 20 years- until 2050.

That’s a sigh of relief to Monticello-area civic leaders. Monticello and Wright County leaders have had to consider a life without Xcel Energy and the benefits the nuclear facility brings to the community when planning for the future.

But not any longer.

Monday’s news from Xcel Energy was good news for Monticello, said Monticello City Administrator Jeff O’Neill.

“The nuclear facility and the people who operate it have profoundly affected Monticello over time and are a part of the fabric of the community,” O’Neill said.

With the news that Xcel Energy will look to relicense the nuclear power plant for up to 20 years, the City of Monticello will be able to take a reprieve from worrying about what will happen locally in 10 years.

“This takes a huge amount of pressure off our community,” O’Neill said.

“We can unwind a bit and take more time to plan for our longterm future,” he said.

One always can’t overlook the impact of the nuclear power plant and how it plays a role in Monticello’s tax capacity and keeping taxes low and quality of life high, O’Neill said.

Keeping the Monticello nuclear power plant operational into the future is part of Xcel Energy’s plan to be a carbon-free producer of energy by 2050, Xcel’s Chris Clark told the Monticello Times Monday following the company’s announcement. Clark is president of Xcel Energy – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

A carbon-free footprint doesn’t bode well for the Sherco coal plant across the Mississippi River in Becker.

Xcel has previously announced that two of its three Sherco coal generating plants will close in 2023 and 2026,respectively. On Monday, the company announced it will shutter the last of the coal generating plants in 2030.

But Sherco is scheduled to become home to a new natural gas power plant as Xcel Energy transitions to the generating of renewable energy, Clark said.

Back across the river in Monticello, there was reason to celebrate.

“It’s a big day for us,” Clark said of Xcel Energy as it announced details of its preferred plan it will file with the PUC that outlines its future use of resources.

And Clark reiterated that the report contained good news for Monticello.

Clark said Xcel Energy will work closely with the Monticello community as it seeks to continue the use of the Monticello nuclear plant until at least 2040- and possibly another 10 years beyond that.

Clark said in Monticello Xcel, has an extensive stakeholder process that allows for dialog with civic leaders and the opportunity for public comment on issues relating to the nuclear power plant.

That includes its annual community breakfast at the Monticello Community Center, Clark said, where community members are encouraged to ask questions of Xcel Energy leadership.

Xcel Energy has worked collaboratively with stakeholders including business, community and environmental groups to shape its energy plan.

Reach Jeff Hage at jeff.hage@ecm-inc.com

Editor

Jeff Hage is the editor of the Monticello Times newspaper in Monticello, Minn. He came to Monticello after seven years at our sister papers in Princeton and Milaca.

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