Shuttered Michigan Nuclear Plant Moves Closer to Reopening

Holtec bought the former Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township in June 2022.

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John Madill/The Herald-Palladium via AP, File

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) β€” A company seeking to restart a southwestern Michigan nuclear power plant said Tuesday it has taken a major step forward with the signing of a power purchase agreement.

Holtec International said a subsidiary, Palisades Energy LLC, signed the deal this week with Wolverine Power Cooperative, a not-for-profit energy provider serving rural communities across Michigan.

Under the "multi-decade" agreement, Wolverine agrees to purchase up to two-thirds of the power generated by Palisades for its Michigan-based member rural electric cooperatives. A partner, Bloomington, Indiana-based cooperative Hoosier Energy, will purchase the rest. A Holtec spokesperson said he could not elaborate on "multi-decade." Financial terms were not disclosed.

If it begins generating power again, Palisades would be the first shuttered nuclear power plant to do so.

Holtec bought the former Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township in June 2022 for the stated purpose of dismantling the plant after previous owner Entergy shut it down weeks earlier. Fuel was removed from the reactor core and federal regulators were notified of "permanent cessation of power operations."

But with support from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and leaders in the Lake Michigan community where Palisades was a key economic player for 50 years, Holtec began a campaign to bring back the 800-megawatt plant.

"We are thrilled to enter into this partnership," Kelly Trice, President of Holtec Nuclear Generation and Decommissioning, said in a statement. "The executed power purchase agreement represents a significant milestone in our journey towards reopening the plant."

Wolverine CEO Eric Baker said restarting Palisades "offers a practical, long-term solution to electric reliability in our state and aligns with Michigan's ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions."

Critic Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist for an anti-nuclear power group called Beyond Nuclear, called the agreement "madness" given the plant's history of mechanical problems.

Michigan lawmakers included $150 million toward the restart in the recently passed $81.7 billion state budget.

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