Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear plant sets 2016 generation record

Xcel Energy’s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant generated more electricity than ever before in the plant’s 45-year history, the company stated in a recent news release.

A series of equipment upgrades, including a 13 percent increase in the plant’s maximum electrical output, and operating at full power for nearly all of 2016 resulted in topping the site’s previous record.

The plant produced 5,597,758 megawatt hours (MWh) of net electrical output in 2016 breaking the previous record of 5,072,586 MWh set in 2006, the Feb. 1 news release stated.

The record-setting amount generated enough power to serve over 500,000 Upper Midwest customers, Xcel Energy reported.

“This is a tremendous achievement for our employees who play a critical role in reducing our carbon footprint by keeping the plant operating safely and efficiently every day of the year. This record highlights their hard work and commitment and I thank them,” said Pete Gardner, Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant Site Vice President.

Over the course of the last decade, the plant was largely rebuilt from the inside-out.

That included upgrading several large pumps and motors that circulate water through the plant, and installing new and larger electrical transformers that allow the plant to reliably put more power onto the grid.  Many components that were replaced were installed when the plant was originally built over 40 years ago.

The Monticello plant also serves as an economic driver for the region. It is the community’s largest employer, providing over 600 jobs. In 2015 alone, the Monticello plant paid $16.5 million in taxes to schools and local government.

According to Xcel, 5.6 million MWh of electricity is enough to brew a whopping 84 cups of coffee for every Minnesotan every single day. What’s more, because nuclear energy is carbon free, the Monticello plant prevented emissions that would have come from burning 20,000 rail cars of coal.