Xcel Energy reacts to pullback of Nevada nuclear storageby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Xcel Energy says it's not worried about signals from the Obama administration that it's moving away from plans to deposit nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
President Obama's 2010 budget proposes to cut money for the Yucca Mountain project, while the administration works on a new strategy on nuclear waste disposal.
The site at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, has been under consideration for a quarter-century, although Nevada officials have argued that the volcanic ridge line is not the most suitable place to store 70,000 tons of reactor waste from commercial power plants.
Obama during his presidential campaign said Yucca Mountain has not been shown to be the best site based on the science, and he promised to review the project.
Xcel Energy's Terry Pickens says cutting funds for the planned repository is nothing new.
"In some ways I look at this, I'm almost encouraged, because it will bring a focus to the whole nuclear waste issue, and say 'what's the right waste policy for this country,'" said Pickens.
In Minnesota, Xcel stores nuclear waste in above-ground casks at its Prairie Island nuclear plant. That storage is an interim step pending a national waste plan. Xcel is applying to expand capacity at both its nuclear plants in Minnesota.
A bill making its way through the Minnesota Legislature would put payments for Yucca Mountain into an escrow account instead of sending the money to the federal government.
And later this month, legislators will take up several bills that would end Minnesota's ban on new nuclear power plants.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)