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Hope Still Springs Eternal for a Palisades Restart

  • By Admin
  • September 16, 2023

In July, in spite of Department of Energy’s denial for funding, Holtec International and Michigan were still moving forward in their efforts to restart the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, located in Covert, Michigan. The plant was closed last year when its fuel ran out and the owner, Entergy, sold the facility to Holtec International for the purpose of decommissioning.

Holtec International and Wolverine Power Cooperative, a not-for-profit power generation cooperative based in Michigan, announced that they have entered into a long-term Power Purchase Agreement that hopefully will “pave the way” for the restart of the 800-MW Palisades Nuclear Power Plant. 

In this multi-decade PPA, Wolverine has agreed to purchase up to two-thirds of the power generated by Palisades for its Michigan-based member rural electric co-operatives.

Michigan lawmakers recently passed a $81.7 billion state budget which included $150 million for the restart of the Palisades nuclear plant. Governor, Gretchen Whitmier, and many climate advocates argue that nuclear power provides reliable energy without emitting greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear energy is a critical part of Governor Whitmer’s climate goals. She says it is needed as a reliable baseload of power as they bring on more solar and wind generation. 

According to Michigan lawmakers, the restart of Palisades will bring back 600 high paying jobs to Southwest Michigan with an economic impact of over a quarter-billion dollars annually. It will also provide the much-needed base-load generation, 800 MWs of carbon-free reliable energy, even when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind isn’t blowing.

According to Holtec, the state money will serve as “bridge funding” to pay for the restart efforts at Palisades should the federal trust fund money, set aside for decommissioning plants, becomes unavailable. More will be known when federal energy officials finally decide on the pending $1 billion grant application, which is expected to be the primary investment in the nuclear plant restart.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Christopher T. Hanson discussed the efforts at Palisades during a House subcommittee hearing in June. He said the federal agency is in talks with Holtec about how to backtrack decommissioning and bring the plant back to life. “They’ve gotten a series of exemptions when they shut down, basically how to undo those exemptions in a timely way, how they’re going to physically bring the plant back into compliance, and how they’re going to reestablish the programs. It’s new ground for both Holtec and, I admit, for us. But I’m confident that the staff can approach this with the appropriate sense of urgency and creativity, while maintaining safety too,” Hanson said.

Palisades control room replica used for Training.
Photo Credit: Joe Bissell / MLive.com
photo credit: 953mnc.com