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    Repowering decommissioned nuclear plant a possibility


    October 2, 2022 - Marie Weidmayer - mweidmay@mlive.com

     

      COVERT TOWNSHIP — Reopening the Palisades Nuclear Plant is possible, but the focus remains on decommissioning.

      The plant on the shores of Lake Michigan shut down its nuclear reactors for what was thought to be the last time May 20. Holtec International bought the plant June 28 with the goal of decommissioning the plant by 2041.

      However, it’s possible that the nuclear reactors at Palisades may run once again.

      Holtec recently submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program that could help repower Palisades, said Nick Culp, senior manager of governmental affairs, in an email.

      Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is supporting Holtec’s effort, which includes applying for a federal grant through the Civil Nuclear Credit Program.

      The nuclear energy could help with Michigan’s energy needs as Holtec works on new technology, like a small modular reactor, Culp said.

      “The repowering of Palisades would be a major success story for Southwest Michigan and the country — delivering needed safe, reliable and carbon-free energy,” Culp said.

      Two dozen people commented Sept. 22 during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s meeting to gather input on decommissioning the plant. Commenters were almost evenly split on whether the plant should reopen, MLive reported.

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will accept public comments about the decommissioning until Dec. 27.

      “As we have said, both before acquiring Palisades and since taking ownership, Holtec is committed to helping the nuclear and energy industries meet challenges and find solutions,” Culp said.

      The application for the nuclear credit is just the first step, Culp said. Financial commitment from Michigan, as well as getting a power purchase agreement and reconnecting Palisades to the switchyard are some of the other steps.

      Maintenance and delayed improvements at the facility would also need to be done, Culp said.

      The 800-megawatt nuclear plant started operations in 1971 in Covert Township, about 7 miles south of South Haven.

      Around 170 employees transferred to other Entergy facilities. About 90 employees retired, and about 225 employees stayed at Palisades for the decommissioning.

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