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This Feb. 28, 2012 photo shows the gray concrete walls of the Monticello nuclear power plant, in Monticello, Minn. The upper third of the building is not hardened like the lower portion, which contains the reactor. Xcel Energy is about to restart its oldest nuclear plant after a four-month shutdown for improvements that ran $267 million over budget. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Jim Gehrz) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT

Monticello nuclear plant upgrade costs double

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Xcel Energy says the costs of upgrading its Monticello nuclear plant have doubled to $640 million.

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The utility revealed the cost in a filing Wednesday with the state Public Utilities Commission, after previously saying the figure was a trade secret.

The project was originally expected to cost $320 million. The recently completed five-year project included replacement of aging equipment and boosting electricity output by 12 percent. The upgrades are intended to extend the life of the 43-year-old reactor another two decades.

Xcel expects to restart the plant this month after a four-month shutdown.

The utility has asked the PUC for a rate hike for 1.2 million Minnesota customers because of the cost overruns, which it blames on the complexity of the project. The commission is expected to decide this fall.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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