Group calls on Michigan officials to save Palisades nuclear plant

February 28, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News
Palisades nuclear plant. (Photo: Entergy Nuclear)

In the spirit of the letter sent earlier this month to California Gov. Gavin Newsom urging the continued operation of Diablo Canyon beyond 2025, the Climate Coalition—a pronuclear group based in Menlo Park, Calif.—has drafted a similar letter to state officials in Michigan concerning the Palisades nuclear power plant.

The letter, which at this writing has over 260 signatories, implores Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and members of the Michigan legislature to take action to save Palisades. Owner and operator Entergy has slated the plant for permanent closure in May, nine years before the expiration of its operating license.

The advocates’ argument: “This single plant produces as much greenhouse gas–free energy in a year as does all the wind and solar capacity in Michigan, 6.3 terawatt-hours,” the letter states. “However, losing Palisades is worse than demolishing all renewable energy sources in Michigan: Palisades provides one-fifth of Michigan’s firm reliable carbon-free electricity. The closure of Palisades will directly undermine the MI Healthy Climate Plan’s laudable goal for economy-wide carbon neutrality and may increase electricity cost to consumers. It will needlessly eliminate over 600 well-paying jobs, devastate the communities that host this plant, and diminish the state’s economic vitality.”

Referencing the $6 billion that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides for nuclear facilities under threat of premature closure, the letter urges Whitmer et al. to “encourage and assist Entergy, or any other plant owner, and Consumers Energy, the electric utility, in accessing this financial assistance to prevent plant closure, and to explore all other possibilities.”

Background: Palisades houses an 811-MWe pressurized water reactor that began commercial operation in December 1971. In December 2016, Entergy announced that it would retire the plant in October 2018, congruent with its strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business. In September 2017, however, the company said it planned to keep Palisades in operation until the spring of 2022 under its power purchase agreement (PPA) with Consumers Energy, due to an order by the Michigan Public Service Commission granting Consumers Energy recovery of only $136.6 million of the $172 million it had requested for a buyout of the PPA.

Entergy agreed in August 2018 to sell Palisades to a Holtec International subsidiary for accelerated decommissioning following the plant’s shutdown and defueling.

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