There Once Was a Nuclear Power Plant Between Brandon and Sioux Falls
I saw that our friends at Dakota New Now are reporting that NorthWestern Energy is thinking about building a new nuclear power plant in South Dakota. They have a couple of spots in mind but are keeping that info to themselves for now.
A good chunk of the Sioux Empire's electricity comes from nuclear plants in Minnesota. But, if they do build new ones in South Dakota, they wouldn't be our first.
READ MORE: Details of 1964 Nuclear Near-Miss in South Dakota Revealed
Back in the 1960s when nuclear power was all the rage, Northern States Power Company built a small nuclear power plant near Sioux Falls named Pathfinder.
It was a sort of 'starter' plant. The company and its investors wanted to use the plant to train and gain experience in running a nuclear power plant.
Built in 1966 and decommissioned the next year, the 'fun-sized' reactor never really generated much electricity for the region. The longest the whole system ever was online was for about half an hour.
The superheater, a part of the plant that generates steam, never quite worked right. So they shut the place down. Nuclear plants use the nuclear reactor to make heat that creates steam which powers turbines that generate electricity.
From 1967 until the early 90s, the plant just sat there sandwiched between I-90 and Rice Street northwest of where Great Bear is, near Brandon, South Dakota.
In 1990, the reactor vessel, the part of a nuclear power plant where the nuclear reactor coolant, core shroud, and reactor core are, was removed. Then the site was converted to a power plant that used oil. That plant closed in 2000. Today, the site is home to Xcel Energy's Angus C. Anson Generating Station.
It wasn't a wasted effort though, Northern States Power learned a lot from running the site. They used that knowledge when they built those two nuclear plants in Minnesota, called Prairie Island and Monticello.