Minnesota state’s House and Senate have agreed on a version of a bill to allow Xcel Energy to increase spent fuel dry storage space at Prairie Island. State governor Tim Pawlentry signed the bill on 29 May.

Xcel plans to add 12 dry storage casks to the 17 already stored at Prairie Island, enabling the plant to continue operating until 2014, when the operating licences of both units will have expired.

The authority to decide on further increases to spent fuel storage capacity will be transferred to the Public Utilities Commission, but the legislature will retain oversight and can vote to reverse the Commission’s decision.

In exchange for being permitted to increase its spent fuel storage space, Xcel will be required to make a considerable investment in renewable energy, including construction of 300MWe of wind power.