After 500 days of continuous operation, the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant began its 28th biennial refueling outage April 14, Xcel Energy reported in a news release this morning.
The outage includes fuel replacement, maintenance, inspection, and testing activities that will result in improved equipment and plant reliability.
This work will help ensure that Monticello continues to provide safe, clean reliable power and provide economic stimulus, grid reliability and environmental benefits for the region, the news release stated.
The work brings 800 contractors from across the country to Monticello for approximately one month, boosting the local economy.
More than 6,000 work activities will be performed by Xcel Energy employees and the contracted workforce, the company reported.
The power plant will be refueled which will replace more than 4 million fuel pellets arranged in 13,468 fuel rods.
The fuel rods are built into 148 fuel assemblies within the reactor core. A large number of safety inspections will also be conducted on the unit’s reactor vessel and turbine generator system.
The Monticello plant is the area’s largest employer with approximately 600 full-time workers.
According to a newly released study by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the plant generates about $447 million in overall economic activity and $96 million in disposable income each year for workers in Minnesota.
The additional work force, local suppliers and service providers required for this period demonstrates the economic value the nuclear facility brings to the region.
“We live and work here in Monticello and are committed to the success of this community,” said Pete Gardner, site vice president, Monticello Nuclear Plant-Xcel Energy. “Reliable electricity is the foundation of a healthy business climate. The activities we will complete over the next month support the regional economy while positioning our plant and company to deliver reliable, carbon-free electricity to our customers.”
The carbon-free energy provided by Xcel Energy’s nuclear facilities is a component of Xcel Energy’s long term energy strategy, including the plan to generate more than 60 percent carbon-free electricity in the Upper Midwest by 2030.
When Monticello is operating at full capacity the plant generates enough electricity to power more than 500,000 homes.