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Xcel energy wants to extend power plant life

Xcel Energy asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Tuesday, for permission to boost the power generation of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant, and extend its operating life, according to the Pioneer Press. Xcel hopes to boost the plant's power by 20 percent and extend the plant's life by 20 years.

By boosting the power, the plant would need 35 more dry cask containers to store the extra nuclear waste being produced. Xcel will need to file an application later this spring for The Nuclear Regulatory Commission to consider.

The plant will also apply to extend its operating life by 20 years. They currently have a 40-year federal operating license, which will expire in 2013. The 20-year extension would permit the plant to continue running until 2033. Nuclear power plants must have regular inspections by the federal government, and many plants do receive continuance grants.

The Prairie Island plant's two generators produce about 20 percent of the electricity used by Xcel's Upper Midwest customers. The majority of Xcel power is still provided by coal and natural gas plants, and they are also looking into building wind farms.