The Monticello nuclear plant celebrated its 50th year of operation by setting a record run of 704 straight days of generating carbon-free electricity, before beginning its biennial refueling and maintenance period. Over the next several weeks, workers will replace about one-third of the plant’s fuel along with conducting maintenance and inspecting equipment. The projects will position the plant to run for another two years while also setting the stage for the proposed extension of the plant’s operations through 2040. The plant is consistently rated by nuclear industry groups as one of the best performing facilities in the country and produced more energy over its 704-day breaker-to-breaker run than ever.
“The Monticello nuclear plant is key to our strategy of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2030 while also delivering reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity to our customers,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “Refueling and maintenance periods are some of the most important activities our nuclear teams undertake as they help deliver the always-on carbon-free electricity our customers depend on.”
Here since the beginning
Some plant employees have spent their entire careers at the Monticello plant, being among a group of about 60 employees who began working at the plant prior to its operation. The plant now employs about 600 nuclear professionals.
“It’s easy to say a lot has changed in the world since the plant was built 50 years ago,” said Tom Conboy, site vice president, Xcel Energy, Monticello Nuclear Plant. “What has stayed the same is the pride everyone here takes in their work and the care they take to ensure the plant remains safe and reliable for our employees, our customers and our communities. Thanks to these workers, the facility operates better than ever.”
Workers to complete key projects
While the plant is off-line, more than 1,000 specialized workers will replace about one-third of the plant’s nuclear fuel, and perform maintenance, inspections and testing that can only be conducted when the plant is off-line. Some key projects include:
Tests and inspections on key plant components that will maintain plant reliability, such as valves and the reactor pressure vessel
Replacing seals, pumps and pipes
Overhauling additional motors and generation equipment
“Our dedicated nuclear workforce and contract partners are committed to working safely and efficiently to manage these key maintenance and refueling projects,” said Conboy. “With the right plan and work management, we’ll complete our projects on time and on budget, setting the plant up to continue delivering for our customers.”
In addition to providing reliable, carbon-free electricity for more than 870,000 Upper Midwest homes, the plant is one of the largest employers in central Minnesota and provides significant local tax base supporting local schools and infrastructure.