News Story

Citing supportive feedback, Michigan nuclear plant to reapply for federal funding

Restarting the plant could take about two years if approvals are granted, company says

The owner of a southwest Michigan nuclear power plant will again try for federal funding to get the facility running again, the company announced this week.

“Based on the supportive feedback we have received Holtec will be reapplying for the next round of funding through the U.S. Department of Energy’s civil nuclear credit program to support the repowering of Palisades,” owner Holtec International said in a statement.

The statement continued: “The decision to reapply is one that we did not take lightly, but the support of the state of Michigan local officials and key stakeholders who recognize the significant benefit and providing a safe, reliable, carbon-free power source.”

Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of environmental policy, notes that Holtec is a nuclear decommissioning firm. Getting a plant up and running is a departure from its usual business practice. So it’s not unusual that a first application would hit potholes, he said.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy denied Holtec’s application.

“We knew this was kind of a long shot because Holtec is doing something it has never done before,” Hayes told CapCon. “So I’m not 100% sure of what they plan to do differently. But if you’re resubmitting your application, you’re going to be doing something different.”

Patrick O’Brien, director of government affairs for Holtec, admitted the company was a nontraditional applicant to the civil nuclear program.

“It’s designed for plants that are running and in danger of shutting down,” O’Brien said. “We had already started to shut down.”

Holtec believes its application will be stronger the second time.

“We kind of reevaluated everything within the program and said: ‘Okay, here’s, here’s what we missed.’ Let’s (supply) more info. We still think we have a good case for the credits and the reasoning behind wanting to restart Palisades,” O’Brien told CapCon. “It’s the right thing to do for the clean energy future for Michigan, but also for the nation.”

If the plant resumes operation, Holtec would hire a nuclear firm to run the facility, O’Brien said.

When Palisades was running, it provided 15% of Michigan’s green energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear energy provided 30% of Michigan’s electricity in 2021.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.