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Xcel defends cost overruns for renovations at Monticello nuclear plant

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Xcel Energy Friday defended massive cost overruns to upgrade its nuclear power plant in Monticello.

The Star Tribune reported Friday that Xcel in a state filing, claimed the costs were prudent. That is something the company will have to prove to regulators in order to fully recoup the costs of the $665 million project by raising electric rates.

Cost of the renovations to the plant came back at nearly double what officials projected.

Xcel filed the report in response to the state Public Utilities Commission's pledge to investigate the investment. The utility says that even with the cost overruns, the project benefits customers, saving an estimated $174 million through the remaining 16 years of its license.

The Monticello Times reports that the construction on the project was highly complex. The project replaced hundreds of pieces of equipment and required thousands of workers between 2009 and 2013.

The Times article quotes Xcel senior vice president and chief nuclear officer Tim O'Conner who says the plant will now continue to provide 600 megawatts of power through 2030 and will provide an additional 71 megawatts after approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Xcel officials expect the filing will start a review process that will last several months.

Thursday PUC regulators also signed off on a plan from Xcel to increase wind power generation in the upper Midwest.

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