Lawmakers urge federal funding for Palisades restart

December 23, 2023, 3:30PMNuclear News
Palisades nuclear power plant. (Photo: Holtec)

A bipartisan group of nine House members is calling on the Department of Energy to give “fair, full, and swift consideration” to Holtec International’s application for DOE Loan Programs Office funding to restart the company’s Palisades nuclear plant, closed last year by the facility’s previous owner, Entergy.

Holtec submitted its application in late February of this year, having earlier sought, unsuccessfully, financial assistance for resurrecting the Covert, Mich., plant through the DOE’s Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program.

The pitch: “Repowering Palisades could significantly grow the region’s economy, strengthen our domestic energy security, and return safe, reliable, and carbon-free generation back to the electrical grid,” wrote the lawmakers in a December 15 letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Christopher Hanson. “Restoring Palisades’ 800 megawatts of baseload generation, which is sufficient to reliably power more than 800,000 homes with clean energy, would be critical to addressing our nation’s fast-growing energy needs. In addition to clear energy benefits, Palisades has the potential to directly drive economic growth and create hundreds of highly skilled jobs, including a union workforce and long-term opportunities in STEM fields. Having only been off line since mid-2022, the plant remains in workable condition . . . .”

Letter signatories included Reps. Jack Bergman (R., Mich.), Bill Huizenga (R., Mich.), John Moolenaar (R., Mich.), Donald Norcross (D., N.J.), Hillary Scholten (D., Mich.), Elissa Slotkin (D., Mich.), Haley Stevens (D., Mich.), Jeff Van Drew (R., N.J.) and Tim Walberg (R., Mich.).

Background: Entergy shuttered the single-unit plant in May 2022—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 plant, Holtec submitted an application to participate in the DOE’s initial round of CNC Program funding.

That funding request was rejected last November, spurring Holtec to file its application with the department’s Loan Programs Office.

This July, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer added state support to Holtec’s revival effort, signing into law Michigan’s fiscal year 2024 budget, which provides $150 million in funding for a Palisades restart. And on September 12, Holtec jointly announced a decades-long power purchase agreement with Michigan’s not-for-profit rural electric cooperative Wolverine Power Cooperative for the sale of Palisades’ power output.

Further, in early October, Holtec announced that it had filed with the NRC to “formally begin the process of seeking federal reauthorization of power operations” at Palisades.

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