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Xcel ends outage at Prairie Island nuclear plant

RED WING, Minn. -- The Prairie Island nuclear plant returned to full power at 2 a.m. Monday, wrapping up a project that brought hundreds of extra employees to the area.

Two new steam generators were installed during a refueling and maintenance outage that began Sept. 21, Xcel Energy said Monday. A third of the fuel rods were replaced, along with Unit 2’s 40-year-old steam generators.

About 1,500 contractors were brought in, along with regular staff, to help complete the work.

The generators were manufactured in France and made a months-long trek to the plant in Red Wing. They were shipped to New Orleans via ocean vessel, then loaded onto a river barge to travel up the Mississippi River.

The steam generators in Unit 1 were replaced in 2004.

Unit 1 remained online throughout the most recent outage. Xcel crews brought Unit 2 back online gradually as the work ended.

Each of the two 550-megawatt reactors at Prairie Island is refueled about every 18 months. The other unit typically remains at full power.

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