News Story

Closed West Michigan nuclear plant has a buyer for its energy

Company cited ‘adverse financial viability’ in its closure, but believes problem is resolved now

A reopened Palisades nuclear plant in West Michigan took another step toward reality this week when it found a buyer for the 800 megawatts of energy it will someday produce.

Palisades closed last May and was thought to be headed for a full decommissioning. Its owner, Holtec International, intended to decommission the plant. But things changed and company leaders set out to reopen the facility instead.

Due to the massive cost and regulatory hurdles involved in nuclear, it will take federal largesse to restore the plant. After an earlier effort to obtain subsidies failed, despite the support of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, federal officials embraced Palisades.

Now Palisades has a buyer for up to two-thirds of the energy it will produce. That buyer is Wolverine Power Cooperative, a nonprofit that serves rural Michigan. A partner of Wolverine Power, Hoosier Energy, will buy the rest.

“[A]lthough we see no real obstacles ahead, re-powering of a dormant plant such as Palisades would be a feat that has never been achieved before,” said Dr. Kris Singh, CEO of plant owner Holtec International, in a statement.

Singh didn’t end it there. He said he hopes Palisades inspires a nuclear revival in other countries.

“Hopefully, the Palisades revival would encourage our allies, Germany and Japan, who have many dormant nuclear plants, to adopt a similar course,” Singh added.

The once-planned closure of Palisades owed to “adverse financial viability,” the company said, and Holtec believes the purchase agreements will make it viable.

Palisades is still working through the U.S. Department of Energy loan process, and working with regulators. Even with a cooperative effort, it will take many years for Palisades to resume operations.

“We are recommending that, to the extent that elected officials refuse to stop subsidizing energy projects, they should focus at least a portion of their proposed spending on energy sources that provide the reliable, flexible, safe electricity that Michigan residents and businesses require,” said Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environmental policy. “And the Palisades Nuclear Plant has a history of doing just that.”

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.