Holtec seeking state aid for Palisades restart

April 17, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Palisades nuclear power plant may have entered retirement, but it’s not dead yet. Plant owner Holtec International is continuing with its unprecedented effort to restart the Covert, Mich., single-unit facility, shuttered 11 months ago by previous owner Entergy.

In February—following its rejection last November for first-round funding from the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program—Holtec filed an application with the DOE’s Loan Programs Office for financial assistance in reviving Palisades. Then last month, Holtec officials met with Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to discuss the proposed regulatory path to reauthorization of plant operations.

Now the company is looking at the potential for state aid. According to a news piece last week from southwest Michigan’s Herald-Palladium, state Reps. Pauline Wendzel (R., 39th Dist.) and Joey Andrews (D., 38th Dist.) both put the dollar amount being sought at $300 million. Andrews later told the Detroit News that a formal request for the funds has yet to be made, adding, “It’s bridge money to help [Holtec] get from ending the decommissioning process to beginning operating again.”

What Holtec is saying: In an April 13 email to Nuclear Newswire, Holtec’s director of government affairs and communications Patrick O’Brien declined to address specific numbers, offering instead the following statement: “We applaud the governor for prioritizing the repowering of Palisades and bringing all parties together to find a solution. As we work with the Department of Energy through the loan application process, the financial commitment from Michigan and a power purchase agreement are both essential to making a return to operations feasible. We appreciate the support we have received from the governor and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle as they understand the importance of this effort in providing clean and reliable energy generation, as well as driving economic development and job creation in Michigan. We are hopeful that the process will produce a winning solution.”

O’Brien also noted that repowering Palisades’ pressurized water reactor would return 811 MWe of “safe and reliable carbon-free electricity back to Michigan” and bring “hundreds of permanent, high-paying jobs to west Michigan as well as bolster the local tax base that supports public schools and other public services.”

Friends in high places: Holtec’s effort to resurrect Palisades has received strong backing from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Last September, Whitmer wrote to secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm, stating, “With your support, Holtec plans to repower and reopen the Palisades, a union plant in southwest Michigan that employs 600 workers making an average of $117,845; supports over 1,100 regional jobs; generates $363 million in annual regional economic development; and produces more than 800 megawatts of reliable, clean power. Keeping Palisades open is critical for Michigan’s competitiveness and future economic development opportunities.”

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