Holtec sets up maintenance and modification subsidiary

02 May 2024

US company Holtec International has established a wholly-owned subsidiary aiming to "energise the presently placid business sector of modification and maintenance", with the initial project being the restart of the Palisades plant.

Palisades (Holtec)

Holtec Maintenance & Modification International (HMI) is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is being headed by Christopher Bakken. In its statement announcing the move, Holtec International said the new company's mission was "to meet the time-critical maintenance and modification needs of the world’s operating nuclear power plants with assured performance certainty".

It added: "To provide maximum value to its clients, HMI is poised to introduce cutting edge technologies such as AI-aided preventive maintenance and robot-led crew radiation dose reduction methods at its clients’ plants ... we believe the HMI management model will bring about a vastly improved control of operating costs of nuclear plants and ensure heightened plant reliability, which will support the expected renaissance in nuclear generation around the world."

HMI will operate under its parent company's programmes on nuclear quality assurance, environmental protection, personnel safety assurance, corporate governance and supply management "but will be otherwise autonomous". It will work with Holtec’s Nuclear Power Division "to provide replacement components and systems - reverse engineered as necessary to replace obsolescent items - to meet target outage schedules".

As well as its initial work on the project to restart the 840 MWe Palisades plant, Holtec says that "discussions with other clients in the USA and overseas are under way".

Rick Springman, Holtec’s President of Global Clean Energy Opportunities, said: "With the launch of HMI, we can now provide an integrated capability to meet the operating needs of the scores of SMR-300 plants that we hope to be building in the US and around the world."

Holtec agreed to purchase Palisades from then-owner and operator Entergy in 2018, ahead of the scheduled closure, for decommissioning. The acquisition was completed in June 2022, within weeks of the reactor's closure, and at that time Holtec planned to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of the plant by 2041. But the company then announced plans to apply for federal funding to enable it to reopen the plant, with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer amongst those pledging support for the move. The State of Michigan's Fiscal Year 2024 budget, signed by Whitmer in mid-2023, provides USD150 million in funding towards the plant's restart. In March, the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office conditionally committed up to USD1.52 billion for a loan guarantee to Holtec Palisades for its project to bring the Palisades plant back online. The aim is for Palisades to be back operating by the end of 2025.

Holtec has also said it intends to locate its first two small modular reactor (SMR) units at Palisades. It also has hopes for fleets of its 160 MWe SMRs elsewhere - in Europe in countries including Ukraine, the Czech Republic and the UK.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News