Department of Energy rejects Holtec International’s plan to restart Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

NOW: Department of Energy rejects Holtec International’s plan to restart Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

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COVERT, Mich. – No second life for Palisades: after applying for a Civil Nuclear Credit program, the United States Department of Energy rejected Holtec International’s plan to restart the decommissioned facility.

“Obviously, it was disappointing news when we found out,” said Pat O’Brien, Director of Government Affairs and Communications at Holtec.

Holtec bought the plant back in June 2022 to begin the decommissioning process, starting with the removal of spent nuclear fuel from the reactor and storing it before the demolition can begin.

But in September, Holtec announced their plan to restart the plant—a move that was championed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as an opportunity to bring in hundreds of jobs as well as help the state become more energy independent.

Now those plans will not move forward.

O’Brien said, “It was a challenge we took willingly, understanding how big of a lift it was, and it would have been a first for the nuclear industry.”

The Department of Energy did not respond for comment.

O’Brien said, while disappointing, Holtec will continue the lengthy decommissioning process at Palisades, which is not set to finish until 2041.

“Originally when we were purchasing the plant, we thought that would be the case: it was where we were headed from day one,” he told me. “Obviously the desire from state and federal officials for us to look into possibly repowering the plant did kind of put a little hiccup into that for a while.”

Though while the decommission continues, O’Brien added that the future is not set in stone for Palisades.

“It’s not to say that Palisades will never be a place that will generate power again,” said O’Brien. “Obviously our company is one that is forward thinking. There is the grid connection there, so we have potential down the line for maybe some of our future technology that uses a small, modular reactor to potentially use nuclear again on that site. I don’t know what the future holds, but the decommissioning, obviously is important. We want to see that done safely, but never say never. You just don’t know what the potential reuse of that site is down the line.”

Now there is some concern over what impact not having Palisades will have on the local economy, for neighboring towns like Covert and South Haven, as having it restarted was anticipated to support over one-thousand jobs.

While I was not able to speak with any business owners on camera, the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce told me that they are compiling a special report studying the potential impact, which will be made available in the coming weeks.

That results of that study will be provided here, once released.

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