Xcel Blamed for Cost Overruns at Monticello Plant

Updated: 07/09/2014 4:34 PM KSTP.com

Monticello Nuclear Plant
Monticello Nuclear Plant
Photo: Photo: KSTP/File

An investigation by Minnesota utility regulators blames Xcel Energy Inc. for major cost overruns during a project to upgrade its nuclear plant in Monticello.

Xcel disagrees that it's to blame.

The Star Tribune reports that experts hired by Minnesota utility regulators found Xcel managers didn't fully plan for the job and didn't have adequate oversight. The investigation also found Xcel misleadingly blamed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for some costly delays.

The project rose from an estimated $320 million in 2008 to $665 million when it was completed last year. The final cost could reach $748 million.

The utility is asking regulators to have ratepayers pay for the cost of the upgrade.

Xcel will file a reply to issues raised in the investigation Aug. 26.

Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company released a statement that reads in part, “The Monticello life-extension/power upgrade project was a highly complex undertaking. The end result will provide good value to our customers and community, especially in light of the recently proposed federal requirements on carbon reduction. We are pleased to see the department confirms in its filing that this integrated project is cost-effective as a whole, even at the final cost.”

The statement went on to say they believe reasonable and prudent decisions were made over the five-year span of this project, and they don’t agree with the department’s view.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.