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    Nuclear plant arranges deal to sell power

    September 14, 2023 - Sheri McWhirter -


      COVERT — The company that owns the Palisades nuclear plant has announced that it will restart the 800-megawatt power plant in a deal with Wolverine Power Cooperative.

      The facility stands to become the first decommissioned nuclear plant to be fired back up in the United States.

      Holtec International said on Tuesday that it entered a long-term power purchase agreement with Wolverine, which committed to buy up to two-thirds of the nuclear energy generated at the facility in Covert Township. Rural electric cooperative project partner Hoosier Energy will purchase the balance.

      Kelly Trice, president of Holtec’s nuclear generation and decommissioning, said the company is thrilled to be in this new partnership. He said it’s a “significant milestone” toward reopening the plant.

      Kelly Trice, president of Holtec’s nuclear generation and decommissioning, said the company is thrilled to be in this new partnership. He said it’s a “significant milestone” toward reopening the plant.

      “The repowering of Palisades ensures 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,” Trice said.

      He said with support from federal partners, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state Legislature and the local community, this plan “will soon be a reality.”

      Wolverine provides electricity to rural communities across more than half of the Lower Peninsula from 60% carbon-free sources. Co-op officials said the new agreement will bolster their commitment to provide reliable, affordable and clean power.

      “The restart of Palisades offers a practical, long-term solution to electric reliability in our state and aligns with Michigan’s ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions,” said Eric Baker, Wolverine’s top executive officer.

      The plant was closed in May 2022 when its fuel ran out and the owner sold the facility to Holtec. The new owner has now twice applied for federal money to help get the plant operational again.

      Michigan lawmakers included $150 million toward the effort to restart the Palisades nuclear plant as part of a record $81.7 billion state budget recently passed. The application for federal nuclear program dollars remains pending.

      The planned restart of the shuttered nuclear power plant near South Haven could bolster Michigan’s carbon-free energy supply and help meet emissions reduction goals while awaiting more wind and solar energy generation to come onto the grid.

      Natural gas power plants have provided a greater percentage of the state’s energy supply following the closure of the Palisades nuclear plant and some coal-fired generation plants, such as the Weadock Plant in Bay County’s Hampton Township and the shutdown of the D.E. Karn Plant in Essexville.

      The use of nuclear energy is part of Michigan’s carbon emissions mitigation plan adopted last year.

      Stacey LaRouche, Whitmer’s press secretary, said they have been proud to support the work to get this done.

      “Today’s agreement is a strong step toward restarting Palisades, which would save 600 good-paying, high-skill jobs, continue delivering clean power to approximately 800,000 homes, and support an economic engine in Southwest Michigan,” LaRouche said.

      “Our state is once again leading by example, as Palisades is on track to becoming the first successfully restarted nuclear power plant in American history. We are showing the world that Michigan will be an epicenter of clean energy production and do what it takes to save jobs, protect local communities, and deliver reliable power to homes and small businesses.”

      But not everyone is excited about the announcement.

      Some residents of Palisades Park, near the plant, called it among the riskiest and worst environmental decisions ever made in the nuclear power industry.

      “The plant was too expensive to keep running due to costly maintenance issues in which the previous owner was not willing to invest, so the aging plant is now in worse condition than it was when it closed,” said Kevin Flynn.

      He argued it is short-sighted to reopen a “badly designed, poorly constructed nuclear reactor that sits on the fresh water supply for millions of residents in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.”

      Power generation at nuclear plants does not generate greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change, like burning fossil fuels does. However, some environmental advocates remain concerned about ecological degradation from needed uranium mining and radiation risk from the toxic waste nuclear plants produce.


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