News Story

Whitmer affirms that nuclear energy is clean energy

In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Whitmer describes Palisades nuclear plant as good business and good for the environment

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote a letter Friday in support of Holtec International's efforts to revive the Palisades nuclear plant, and seeking federal funds to get it back running.

“We have a path forward," Whitmer wrote, in her letter to U.S. Energy Secretary and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Whitmer argues the nuclear plant is not only good for business, but that it will “help fight climate change.” Whitmer is seeking federal funds through the Civil Nuclear Credit program.

Whitmer’s letter quotes another letter from Granholm in May, which described the Civil Nuclear Credit as an effort to “help avoid premature retirements of reactors across the country due to financial hardship, preserve thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs to sustain local economies, and protect our supply of carbon-free electricity generation.”

The Civil Nuclear Credit says, “The nation’s current fleet of nuclear power plants is vital to achieving the nation's goals of a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.”

Whitmer, too, describes nuclear energy as clean energy. She wrote:

With your support, Holtec plans to repower and reopen the Palisades, a union plant in Southwest Michigan that employs 600 workers making an average of $117,845, supports over 1,100 regional jobs, generates $363 million in annual regional economic development, and produces more than 800 megawatts of reliable, clean power. Keeping Palisades open is critical for Michigan’s competitiveness and future economic development opportunities.

Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center, warned that blackouts could follow. Palisades provided 6.5% of Michigan’s electricity and 15% of its clean energy, Hayes found. In May, in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Hayes wrote:

Decades of mandates and subsidies mean Michigan has a quickly growing supply of solar panels and more than 1,500 wind turbines. Yet combined, they still can’t produce as much electricity as the Palisades plant alone. There is no economically viable path to ramp up wind or solar production to replace the lost power, much less meet the state’s rising energy demands.

Palisades was de-fueled on June 10, according to Holtec International. As recently as July, it appeared the nuclear plant would be torn down.

Whitmer’s letter to Granholm is an admission of reality.

Whitmer wrote: “I will do everything I can to keep this plant open, protect jobs, increase Michigan’s competitiveness, lower costs, and expand clean energy production.”

Civil Nuclear Credit applications were due on Sept. 6, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. No decision on grants has been announced.

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.