Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant operating at 100 percent power

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission power reactor status report released early Monday morning indicates the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant is operating at 100 percent.

Pat Thompson, Xcel Energy’s site communications manager, confirmed early Monday that the plant reached 100 percent power at 5:40 p.m. Saturday.

Mark Schimmel, Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant site president, previously said scope of work encountered during the plant’s 26th scheduled and recently completed refueling outage and power capacity expansion project rivaled any activity that’s occurred on-site since the Monitcello plant’s original start-up during the early 1970s.

The outage began in early March. Approximately 2,000 contractors – many of whom descended upon the Monticello area from other parts of the country, providing a boon to the local economy – have finished the last round of major equipment upgrades to increase the plant’s capacity to 671 megawatts.

According to Schimmel, the longest scheduled outage at the Monticello plant was in 1984, when a recirculating piping replacement project took more than 300 days to complete.

The most challenging installations during this outage were associated with the feedwater system, Schimmel said. Improvements included new condensate pumps, feedwater pumps and heaters and all new piping and valves. The second-most challenging installation was 13.8 kilovolt modifications that replaced two of the plant’s off-site transformers and distribution systems. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is scheduled to approve the plant’s power uprate later this year.

The NRC approved a renewed license for Monticello in 2006, extending its operating life until 2030. That September the PUC approved the use of dry spent-fuel storage at Monticello to provide the spent-fuel storage capacity to operate until 2030.