Westinghouse Electric Co. signed a nuclear fuel and related services contract extension with Xcel Energy for its two pressurized water reactor units at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in Red Wing, Minnesota.
“This long-term contract extension confirms Xcel Energy’s confidence in the high reliability of Westinghouse nuclear fuel and our proven design and manufacturing capabilities,” said David Howell, Westinghouse president, Americas Region, and chief growth officer. “This fuel contract extension, as well as the recently announced 10-year outage services contract, reflects our long-standing relationship with Xcel Energy.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Westinghouse will deliver eight regions – or batches of fuel assemblies – of the Westinghouse Vantage+ nuclear fuel design for Prairie Island Units 1&2 over an eight-year period. The extension will commence engineering and fabrication in 2019, with the first fuel delivery in 2020. The majority of these fuel assemblies will feature an innovative fuel solution known as the IFBA/Gad Hybrid fuel assembly design. This combines Westinghouse’s proven Integral Fuel Burnable Absorber (IFBA) fuel rods that use zirconium diboride (ZrB2) as the absorber material with a small number of gadolinia fuel rods to facilitate longer fuel cycles, while reducing fuel cycle costs for the customer.
“Nuclear power plays an important role in Xcel Energy’s clean energy vision of 85 percent carbon-free generation by 2030,” said Tim O’Connor, Xcel Energy senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “Our agreement with Westinghouse leverages innovation in fuel design combinations, with minimal regulatory change, while reducing our fuel costs to operate. That’s a win for customers and our supplier partners and proves nuclear can competitively add value to carbon-free electric production.”
The IFBA fuel rods and fuel assemblies will continue to be manufactured at Westinghouse’s Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in Columbia, South Carolina, and the gadolinia fuel rods will be manufactured at Westinghouse’s Västerås Fuel Fabrication Facility in Västerås, Sweden.