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Holtec signs PPA aimed at restarting Palisades nuclear plant

The fate of the shuttered plant still hinges on financial support from the federal government.

Holtec International and Wolverine Power Cooperative announced the signing of a long-term power purchase agreement that would allow the restart of the 800 MW Palisades nuclear plant in Covert Township, Michigan.

Wolverine would purchase up to two-thirds of the power generated by Palisades for its Michigan-based member rural electric cooperatives. Indiana-based Hoosier Energy, another G&T Cooperative, would purchase the rest.

Palisades is now closer to becoming the first successfully restarted nuclear power plant in the U.S. Holtec acquired the plant in June 2022 just after it was shutdown.

“We are thrilled to enter into this partnership,” said Kelly Trice, President of Holtec Nuclear Generation and Decommissioning. “With key support from federal partners, Governor Whitmer, the Michigan legislature, and the local plant community, this will soon be a reality.”

But any restart is contingent on federal dollars to get the plant up and running again. In early 2023, Holtec applied with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office for federal loan funding to repower Palisades.

Federal energy officials are reviewing the $1 billion grant application, expected to be the primary investment in the nuclear plant restart. Holtec officials have been quoted as saying it would take hundreds of millions of dollars for facility renovations and to buy nuclear fuel.

Holtec also said it has participated in several public meetings with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to discuss finding an NRC-licensed operator for the plant.

In May a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers that make up a newly-formed nuclear energy caucus wrote a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressing “full support” for the re-opening of Palisades.

Whitmer herself has supported reopening Palisades, a carbon-free baseload generating source as more solar and wind power infrastructure is built out.

Michigan also included $150 million to restart the plant in its latest budget passed in June.

Some activists who long criticized Palisades as poorly maintained and dangerous don’t want it resurrected.

Earlier this year 43 organizations representing Indigenous, climate, environmental, Great Lakes and water protection, social and racial justice and other interests recently wrote a letter to all Michigan state legislators, urging them to reject state funding aimed at reopening the plant.

Palisades began commercial operation in 1971

Source: Power Engineering