By Andrew Zieglmeier
As a nuclear professional and St. Cloud resident, Xcel Energy’s commitment to nuclear power by filing for license renewal is exciting news. I believe in the nuclear industry as a career. My experience in the nuclear field started by serving in the United States Naval Submarine Force. Upon receiving an honorable discharge, I returned to the St. Cloud area and I am an active volunteer with Scouting and VEX Robotics. There are several employees of the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant that live in the St. Cloud area. This facility provides skilled labor positions and professional jobs with great pay and a strong safety culture.
At the same time, it provides Minnesota with reliable, emission free energy. Solar, wind and nuclear energy are key to Minnesota’s carbon-free energy future. In many discussions about addressing climate change, we tend to focus on the technologies with the best advertising campaign as opposed to those that have carried us to this point. Xcel Energy has a goal to be carbon free by 2050. In order to reach that goal, we must focus on building, developing, and sustaining generation sources that are non-carbon emitting and reliable. Nuclear energy is currently 55% of America’s carbon-free energy production.
A solid energy portfolio consists of power production that you can rely on. Our last winter, the polar vortex showed that having Monticello and Prairie Island producing electricity while other power sources could not, kept our communities safe. Many people do not understand that there is continuous nuclear energy production in Minnesota, 24/7, 365 days a year.
A renewed license means continued clean energy and local jobs for Minnesota for many more years to come.
Andrew Zieglmeier is an Instrumentation and Controls Fleet Instructor at Xcel Energy. He is a member of the Nuclear Matters Nuclear Energy Ambassador Program (NEAP).