DOE rejects Palisades application for funds to restart
- By JULIANA KNOT HP Staff Writer
- Nov 18, 2022
Palisades Nuclear Generating Station is pictured during a tour earlier this fall.
Don Campbell / HP staff
COVERT — Holtec International's bid to restart Palisades Nuclear Power Plant has been rejected, ending any hopes of bringing the plant back online.
The nuclear planting decommissioning company learned on Friday its application for Department of Energy civil nuclear credits had been denied, said Pat O'Brien, director of government affairs and communications.
“We appreciate the consideration that the Department of Energy (DOE) put into our application for the Civilian Nuclear Credit program. We fully understood that what we were attempting to do, re-starting a shuttered nuclear plant, would be both a challenge and a first for the nuclear industry," he said in a prepared statement. "While the DOE’s decision is not the outcome many had hoped for, we entered this process committed to working with our federal, state, and community partners to see if the plant could be repowered to return to service as a provider of safe, reliable, and carbon-free generation."
O'Brien said site workers and company stakeholders had also been notified on Friday, prior to alerting media. He did not comment on why the application, submitted in September, was rejected. The Department of Energy did not immediately respond for comment.
Decommissioning has already begun, but everything done thus far has been reversible, plant officials said, in the case the plant was able to reopen. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated $6 billion to prolong the lives of nuclear power plants closing for economic and not safety reasons. Palisades is licensed to operate through 2031.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer threw her support behind reopening Palisades in April, calling the plant a source of carbon-free energy and union jobs. Before shutting down two weeks early in May, the plant employed more than 600 people. Now, only about a third remain at the plant.
The plant faced an uphill battle to reopen, as two-thirds of its workforce had left, no fuel had been ordered and Holtec was not licensed to operate a plant. To be successful, the company would have had to partner with a third party with an operating license.
Holtec remains focused on decommissioning Palisades, O'Brien said, a process which will take about 19 years.
"As we have said, both before acquiring Palisades and since taking ownership, Holtec remains committed to helping the nuclear and energy industries meet challenges and find solutions here in Michigan and across the country. That commitment remains as our employees focus on the safe and timely decommissioning of Palisades to allow for potential reuse," O'Brien said in a prepared statement. "Our thanks to our team at Palisades who are leading its decommissioning and for whom the health and safety of our community remain the highest priority.”
Holtec officially acquired the plant from Entergy Inc., who has since vacated the merchant nuclear power business, in July. The decommissioning company has said small modular reactors, like at their Oyster Creek facility, remain a possibility for Palisades, especially given strong community support for nuclear energy. Additionally, developers have expressed a lot of interest in the nearly 500-acre site along the lakeshore.
Contact: jknot@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @knotjuliana