Operational Excellence
August 24, 2023

Minnesota remains committed to carbon-free nuclear

PUC approval for Monticello plant is key to Xcel Energy’s clean energy strategy

Xcel Energy has received approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to extend operations of the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant through 2040, a major step toward continuing to provide reliable, carbon-free energy for more than 500,000 customers across the Upper Midwest while contributing to the state’s carbon reduction goals. 
The Commission approved Xcel Energy’s application to allow increased storage of spent nuclear fuel at the site, opening the door for at least 10 more years of operation. 
“We thank the Commission, Minnesota Department of Commerce and other stakeholders for their careful review and recognition of the importance of the Monticello nuclear plant to our shared clean energy goals,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy – Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “Nuclear power is crucial to achieving those goals because of its unique combination of reliability, affordability and zero emissions.”  
Together, the company’s Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants provide more than 30% of the electricity that the company’s customers use in the Upper Midwest. In 2022, the two plants together produced nearly 14,700 gigawatt hours of energy, a record for the sites. They’re among the company’s most reliable generating facilities and key to reaching Minnesota’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.  
As part of extending the use of the Monticello plant, Xcel Energy has also filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to request an extension of the plant’s operating license. The federal license review and approval process is extensive, and a decision from federal regulators is expected in late 2024. 
Reliable operations 
Xcel Energy’s nuclear plants regularly operate uninterrupted during extreme weather and other events that increase demand or reduce supply on the regional electric grid, only shutting down to refuel the reactor every two years. During this year’s refueling at Monticello, skilled technicians performed 60,000 hours of inspection and maintenance that ensured the safe and efficient operation of the plant. 
In addition to continual safe and reliable operation, the Monticello nuclear plant has improved its efficiency in recent years, reducing its operating costs by 35% over the past decade.   
“We’re proud of our nuclear team’s performance, which positions nuclear as a foundation of the company’s future,” said Shawn Hafen, site vice president at the Monticello plant. “The Public Utilities Commission’s approval sends an important message to our co-workers about the important work they do to power our customers’ lives.” 
Boost to local economy 
Xcel Energy’s nuclear power plants are economic drivers for the communities they operate in. After 50 years of operations, the Monticello plant holds a significant role in the regional community and economy.  
In addition to generating electricity for more than 500,000 homes, the plant is also Monticello’s largest employer and local taxpayer. Many Xcel Energy employees live and volunteer in the community, benefiting local schools and nonprofit organizations. Xcel Energy appreciates the City of Monticello’s support of continued plant operations.  
“The Commission’s decision helps ensure many high-quality jobs in our local community for years to come,” said Marcy Anderson, executive director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The economic impact is tremendous. Workers live, shop and dine locally, contributing to a thriving Monticello community.”  
Learn more about Xcel Energy's nuclear generating plants on our website.