$1.5 billion DOE loan aims to restart Palisades

January 31, 2024, 3:01PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, Mich. (Photo: NRECA)

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, Mich., may become the first in the United States to be restarted after permanent shut down—with help from a $1.5 billion loan being championed by the Biden administration.

Holtec International could receive the funding as soon as next month, according to a Bloomberg news report. The loan is part of efforts by the Biden White House to bolster the U.S. nuclear fleet to meet ambitious climate goals. The United States was among the countries as the COP28 meeting last fall that pledged to triple nuclear power output worldwide by 2050.

About Palisades: Palisades’ 777-MWe pressurized water reactor was removed from service on May 20, 2022, by Entergy, then owner and operator of the facility.

In June 2022, Holtec completed its acquisition of the site, and company subsidiary Holtec Decommissioning International became the license holder and prime decommissioning contractor.

Since then, there has been a push to reopen the Palisades plant, including letters from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm. In her 2022 letters, Whitmer wrote, “Keeping Palisades open is a top priority for the state of Michigan. . . . 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.”

Biden’s loan: The $1.5 billion would be backed by a loan guarantee program—created under Biden’s climate law—designed to revitalize old energy plants. More than a dozen nuclear plants have closed since 2013, due in part to cheaper natural gas sources and subsidies given to renewables such as solar and wind.

Holtec is hoping for timely approval of the loan application that Palisades can resume operations by the end of 2025.

“The historic repowering of Palisades has been buoyed by strong support from our federal, state, and community partners who recognize its importance to our clean energy future,” said Nick Culp, senior manager of government affairs and communications at Holtec. “We are very optimistic about the federal loan process and confident in the strength of our application.”

The Department of Energy is not commenting currently, citing business confidentiality.

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