Company wants $1bn in federal loans, state funding to bring reactor back online
The owners of the shut-down Palisades nuclear power station in the US state of Michigan are hopeful that the federal government will approve approximately $1bn (€933m) to complement state funds from Michigan to restart the single-unit facility.
Palisades, on the shore of Lake Michigan in Covert Township, began commercial operation in 1971. The 805-MW pressurised water reactor unit was shut down in May 2022 and bought just weeks later by Holtec, a supplier of equipment to the energy industry.
Holtec initially planned to repurpose the 174-hectare site but the Biden administration’s $6bn of aid for upgrading nuclear facilities in the US led the company to reconsider its plans. Nuclear energy is crucial to president Joe Biden’s goal of an economy with net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The plant’s recent closure makes it eligible for the funds, which are supposed to go towards extending the working life of currently-functioning reactors. No significant steps have been taken to dismantle the plant since it was shut down.
This is Holtec’s second attempt to secure public funding to restart Palisades. It failed to qualify for a different federal programme in November 2022.
Holtec officials are also applying to the state of Michigan for support in the form of a $300m grant to supplement the federal funds.
If successful in arranging the financing, Holtec’s plan would make Palisades the first power plant in the US to resume operation after being shut down. The plant used to produce about 5% of Michigan’s electricity supply.
Lawmakers Offer ‘Full Support’ For Restart
Those in favour of the plan to reopen the plant say that it will help to secure the state’s power needs and help meet Michigan’s climate goals while other projects involving solar and wind energy sources continue to develop.
“Resumption of power generation at Palisades would be a useful addition to the state’s energy mix,” said Matt Helm, spokesperson for the Michigan Public Service Commission. “Palisades generated 800 megawatts of emissions-free electricity before it closed, making it that much more challenging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [without it].”
A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers that make up a newly formed nuclear energy caucus recently wrote a letter to governor Gretchen Whitmer expressing “full support” for the re-opening of Palisades.
“We have the chance to make history by successfully repowering a non-operational nuclear power plant, becoming the first state in American history to accomplish such a feat,” state lawmakers wrote.
“The successful re-powering of Palisades would immediately provide safe, carbon-free, and reliable energy to a grid that desperately needs more baseload generation.”