Michigan’s nuclear professionals urge Gov. Whitmer to halt premature closure of Palisades nuclear power plant

March 22, 2022, 11:56AMPress Releases

The combined Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) urged Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers in a letter to reconsider the premature closure of the carbon-free Palisades nuclear power plant in May.

“We urge Governor Whitmer and the state of Michigan to take a fresh look at the growing negative consequences that Palisades’ closure will have for residents of Michigan,” wrote the Michigan-Ohio Section of ANS in a letter. “We ask that you use your influence to persuade Entergy to continue operating the Palisades Nuclear Plant and Consumers Energy to buy the clean power from the Palisades plant.”

Michigan’s state chapter of the not-for-profit association representing nuclear engineers, scientists, and technologists warned of impending environmental and economic harm facing Michiganders if Entergy goes ahead with the premature shutdown of Palisades. The single-unit pressurized water reactor is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Van Buren County's Covert Township, Michigan; about five miles south of South Haven.

“Michigan faces increased pollution if Entergy carries out their planned premature shutdown of Palisades nuclear power plant,” said Michigan’s nuclear professionals. “The slated loss of Palisades’ zero-carbon electricity in May 2022 will all but guarantee an increase in the use of natural gas, a carbon-emitting fossil fuel, when Michigan’s goal is to achieve a 28 percent reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and a 50 percent reduction by 2030.”

Entergy said the decision to prematurely shutter Palisades was an economic one. As a result of short-sighted state policies and flawed electricity markets that favor fossil fuels and other subsidized energy technologies, Palisades' dispatchable zero-carbon baseload power of nuclear generation remains undervalued and uncompensated for both avoiding carbon dioxides and ensuring grid reliability and resilience.

The letter noted that the draft MI Healthy Climate Plan fails to credit nuclear power for providing any energy for the state of Michigan, despite the current contribution of zero-carbon electricity by the Palisades, Cook, and Fermi nuclear power plants.

“Palisades provides 798 megawatts of zero-carbon baseload capacity,” continued the letter. “Consumers Energy has purchased its power in the past. If the premature closure goes ahead, the proportion of firm and zero-carbon dispatchable electricity generated by Palisades will be replaced mostly by fossil fuels to shore up the grid.”

“Wind and solar energy technologies are too land intensive, weather-dependent, and intermittent

in their electricity production to be capable of filling the vacuum left by Palisades,” said the Michigan and Ohio Section of ANS. “Continued operation of Palisades will also help sustain grid reliability because of its baseload power that can be called upon any day or night.”

The Michigan and Ohio Section of ANS offered the idea of Palisades applying to the U.S. Department of Energy for newly available funds dedicated to preventing the premature closures of nuclear power plants.

“Please encourage Entergy to financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program,” requested Michigan’s nuclear professionals. “Assistance from this program would allow Palisades to continue to operate in current market conditions and to supply clean energy to the Michigan grid. There are nine years left in the current plant license.”

Read the letter from the Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society here.

Established in 1954, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) is an international professional organization of engineers, scientists, and technologists devoted to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Its more than 10,000 members represent government, academia, research laboratories, medical facilities, and private industry. ANS’s mission is to advance, foster, and spur the development and application of nuclear science, engineering, and technology to benefit society.

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