It’s not all bad news from Michigan. While it may not make up for the closing of Covert, Mich.’s Palisades nuclear plant, the state’s House of Representatives last week easily approved legislation that calls for a feasibility study to examine the potential for new nuclear generation.
Introduced on April 14 by Rep. Graham Filler (R., 93rd Dist.), House Bill 1609 passed the chamber 85–20 on May 19 (just one day prior to Entergy’s announcement that it closed Palisades 11 days before its scheduled retirement). Now in Senate hands, the measure instructs the Michigan Public Service Commission to engage an outside consulting firm to conduct the study.
Should the bill become law, the commission must deliver a report on the study to the governor and congressional leadership within 18 months.
Bill basics: In its current form, House Bill 1609 requires the study to consider, among other things, the following:
- Advantages and disadvantages of building additional nuclear energy facilities, including economic and environmental impacts.
- Ways to maximize the use of Michigan workers and products in the construction of these facilities.
- Design characteristics, land and siting criteria, safety criteria, engineering and cost-related criteria, and small modular reactor capability.
- Timeline for development.
- Efficiencies and other benefits that may be gained by coordinating with other advanced, clean energy technologies, such as hydrogen, carbon capture, and energy storage.
Words from the sponsor: “We have coal plants in Michigan that are going to be taken off line soon,” said Filler in a statement following the bill’s passing. “As that baseload is lost, how do we fill that in and make sure Michigan families continue to have access to reliable and affordable energy? Nuclear energy should be part of the discussion. There have been incredible technological advances in the field over the past two decades. It’s a safe way to generate reliable power with minimal environmental impact.”
Filler added, “It’s clear that stakeholders invested in the energy field here in Michigan are interested in what nuclear power generation looks like moving forward. I believe this study will provide comprehensive information that energy providers, legislators, and stakeholders could use as they make decisions regarding the future of nuclear energy in Michigan.”