Holtec International, Wolverine Power Agree to Restart Palisades Nuclear Plant

Palisades Nuclear Plant shown from above

(Credit: Holtec International)

by | Sep 13, 2023

Palisades Nuclear Plant shown from above

(Credit: Holtec International)

Holtec International and Wolverine Power Cooperative have announced a long-term agreement to restart the 800 megawatt Palisades Nuclear Power Plant located in Covert Township, Michigan.

The project, which was acquired by Holtec in 2022 and was shut down in May of that year, but it will now be the first successfully restarted nuclear plant in the United States, according to the partnership.

As a part of the agreement, Wolverine has committed to purchasing up to two-thirds of the power generated by the power plant to be used in the not-for-profit’s electric cooperatives. Hoosier Energy, Wolverine’s rural electric project partner, will purchase the remainder.

The decision to reopen the plant, although somewhat controversial according to some reports, follows the an apparent history of safe and reliable operations. The plant has operated under the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s highest safety category, and it completed record-breaking production runs prior to shutdown, according to Wolverine.

Holtec submitted an application with the DOE’s Loan Programs Office earlier this year and is now working with the department to move the application forward.

“The executed power purchase agreement represents a significant milestone in our journey towards reopening the plant, a historic moment for Michigan and the country,” said Kelly Trice, president of Holtec Nuclear Generation and Decommissioning. “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.”

Palisades Plant to Supply Clean Energy for Rural Michigan

The new agreement is set to enhance Wolverine’s rural electric cooperatives, which already operate on 60% carbon-free energy. Wolverine considers the restart of the Palisades plant to be a practical, long-term solution to electric reliability for Michigan, falling in line with the state’s decarbonization goals. The reopening will also decrease the state’s reliance on energy imports.

According to recent research, nuclear energy should not be prioritized in the transition to clean energy. However, this recommendation applies to new nuclear developments – the Palisades Plant already has existing infrastructure for nuclear power generation.

Further, the University of Michigan Economic Growth Institute estimated that the early closure of the plant resulted in the loss of 739 jobs and $259 million within a few of the nearby counties. Reopening of the site is therefore expected to bring substantial economic benefits to the state.

As a part of the agreement, Holtec plans to also build and commission two additional small modular reactors, which the company claims will eliminate nearly 7 million tons of carbon emissions yearly.

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