Environmental groups are concerned a bill temporarily shelved at the Minnesota Legislature could give Xcel Energy more latitude to keep its nuclear plants in service longer. Michael Noble with the group Fresh Energy approves of Xcel retiring its remaining coal-fired plants but says, “that process gets discussed at the Public Utilities Commission. You don’t go to the legislature and ask for a blank check to keep your nuclear power plant running.”
Xcel regional President Chris Clark responds the bill would actually enable regulators to do “very focused” oversight of nuclear plants. “It’s really part of our overall effort to deliver 85 percent carbon-free energy to our customers by 2030,” he says.
Clark says it’s “too hard… to predict” whether Xcel would ask to keep its nuclear plants in service longer than the current licenses allow — 2030 for Monticello and 2033/34 for Prairie Island. He says, “What we see is that we should keep our options open and see what innovation and technology… could provide.”