Michigan governor calls for nuclear plant to reopen

12 September 2022

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pledged the state's support for Holtec International's application for a federal grant to save the Palisades nuclear power plant which closed in May.

Palisades (Image: Entergy)

Entergy's closure of the 805 MWe pressurised water reactor after more than 50 years of operation was timed to coincide with the expiration of a 15-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy. In June, Palisades was purchased by Holtec International for decommissioning. According to Whitmer, Holtec submitted an application for funding under the Department of Energy's Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) programme on 5 July, just days after completing its acquisition of the plant.

Whitmer has now pledged the state's support for Holtec's application in a letter to US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who is herself a former governor of Michigan. In her letter, Whitmer says keeping Palisades open is a top priority for the state: "I will do everything I can to keep this plant open, protect jobs, increase Michigan's competitiveness, lower costs, and expand clean energy production. We know the path ahead is not easy, but we are not going to let that stop us from fighting for economic opportunity for Southwest Michigan and reliable, clean energy for the state. Just because something's never been done before does not mean it cannot be done in Michigan."

The USD6 billion CNC programme is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021 and aims to address the issue of existing nuclear power plants which are threatened with early closure for economic reasons, where such closures will lead to a rise in air pollutants and carbon emissions.

"I want to underscore that Michigan remains committed to supporting Holtec's efforts at Palisades," Whitmer said in her letter to Granholm. "We are ready to do our part should they receive funding through the CNC programme, including identifying state funding and facilitating a power purchase agreement."

Palisades was removed from service by Entergy on 20 May, and defuelled by 10 June. Holtec's acquisition of the plant - together with the decommissioned Big Rock Point nuclear power plant, where a dry fuel storage facility remains - was completed later that month. Holtec has previously said it plans to move the fuel from Palisades' spent fuel pool to dry cask storage over the next three years and complete decommissioning of the plant (with the exception of the dry storage facility) by 2041.

"We applaud Governor Whitmer for her leadership in recognising the vital importance of Palisades to Michigan's clean energy future as a source of safe and reliable carbon-free electricity," Holtec International President and CEO Kris Singh said, adding that the governor and her team had been "instrumental in supporting this historic opportunity for Southwest Michigan and the country."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News