Holtec, Wolverine ink power purchase agreement for Palisades

September 12, 2023, 3:27PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant.

Holtec International’s ongoing effort to repower Michigan’s closed Palisades nuclear plant made progress this week with the signing of a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the firm’s Holtec Palisades Energy LLC subsidiary and Wolverine Power Cooperative, a not-for-profit energy provider to the rural communities across Michigan.

The foundation of the agreement, according to a September 12 Holtec news release, is a long-term, multidecade PPA, with Wolverine committing to purchase up to two-thirds of the power generated by Palisades for its Michigan-based member rural electric cooperatives, with the balance purchased by Wolverine partner Hoosier Energy.

The agreement also contains a contract-expansion provision to include up to two small modular reactors that Holtec intends to build and commission at the Palisades site. The addition of two SMRs at Palisades, Holtec said, would translate into the elimination of nearly 7 million tons of carbon dioxide each year from Michigan’s air, or 200 million tons of carbon dioxide over the course of Palisades’ projected service life. “The prodigious carbon cancellation capacity of the nuclear-powered Palisades site undergirds the strong consensus within Michigan’s local communities and the government at both state and federal levels to revive the de-activated nuclear plant,” the release stated.

Official words: “We thank Governor Whitmer, the Michigan legislature, the U.S. Department of Energy led by Secretary Granholm, and the people of Michigan, whose enthusiasm to render Palisades into a bastion of new clean energy generation has encouraged us to launch the odyssey of restoring Palisades energy generation,” said Holtec chief executive officer Kris Singh. “We are well aware that, although we see no real obstacles ahead, [the] repowering of a dormant plant such as Palisades would be a feat that has never been achieved before. Hopefully, the Palisades revival would encourage our allies, Germany and Japan, who have many dormant nuclear plants, to adopt a similar course.”

Kelly Trice, president of Holtec Nuclear Generation and Decommissioning, noted that repowering Palisades would ensure that “Michigan has sufficient energy to meet future demand and mitigate the impact of climate change, while creating hundreds of high-paying Michigan jobs, expanding the local tax base, and unleashing economic opportunity within the region and beyond.”

Wolverine CEO Eric Baker said that “ensuring reliable and affordable electricity in Michigan is crucial” and that a Palisades restart “offers a practical, long-term solution to electric reliability in our state and aligns with Michigan’s ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions.”

Background: Entergy shuttered the 777-MWe plant in May of last year—completing the utility’s planned exit from the merchant nuclear power business—and the following month transferred the Palisades license to Holtec for decommissioning. In July 2022, however, in an attempt to revive operations at the facility, Holtec submitted an application to participate in the Department of Energy’s initial round of Civil Nuclear Credit Program funding.

While that funding request was rejected last November, Holtec this February filed an application with the DOE’s Loan Programs Office for financial assistance in resurrecting Palisades. Also, company officials met with Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff in March to discuss the proposed regulatory path to reauthorization of plant operations, and in April, Holtec requested $300 million in state aid to bring the plant back on line.

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