UPDATED: Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant uprate license approved by NRC

The Nuclear Reactor Regulation branch of the NRC notified Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant officials Monday afternoon the plant’s extended power uprate license amendment had been approved.

Xcel Energy issued the following statement and information in a news release Tuesday afternoon:

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Xcel Energy’s application to increase output at Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant to 671 megawatts from 600 megawatts.

“The Monticello nuclear plant currently generates about 10 percent of the electricity we provide customers in our Upper Midwest service territory, and it’s carbon-free energy,” said Dave Sparby, president and CEO, Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. “The increased output will provide additional low-cost energy to our customers.”

Karen Fili, site vice president at Monticello, thanked plant employees for their effort in attaining the milestone. “This is good news for our customers, for the Monticello community and for all Monticello plant employees,” she said.

Within about a month, plant operators will begin slowly increasing power at small intervals to ensure everything is operating as designed.

In addition to the license amendment, Xcel Energy awaits an NRC decision in spring 2014 that will allow more operator flexibility before the plant ascends to the full 671 megawatts.

The Monticello plant, began operation in 1970 under a 40-year license from the NRC. The NRC subsequently approved a 20-year operating license extension. The plant currently generates enough electricity to power nearly a half-million homes.