Palisades to restart with $1.5B federal loan

NOW: Palisades to restart with $1.5B federal loan

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich.-- Wednesday, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer toured the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert Township to give the following announcement:

“The Department of Energy is proud to announce a conditional loan commitment for $1.5 billion to Holtec to get the Palisades Nuclear Plant back up and running," Granholm said.

The Palisades Nuclear Plant ran for 45 years in Covert Township, before shutting down in 2022, but nuclear manufacturer Holtec International saw potential.

“In this case, this plant’s still very viable and we think we can run it for 30 more years,” said President of Nuclear Generation and Decommission, Kelly Trice.

Now, with the federal loan, part of the Inflation Reduction Act, Holtec has plans to build two small modular reactors.

“It will eliminate 4.7 million tons of Co2 a year from the atmosphere,” Trice said.

Of course, nuclear power is not without its controversy, with the vocal opposition group "Beyond Nuclear" raising concerns every step of the way.

But the state and the Department of Energy are moving forward, saying nuclear provides a baseload of electricity that reliably powers the grid.

“Even as we deploy more solar and wind and batteries, we’re going to need more, not less, nuclear power in the decades to come," Granholm said. "By our estimates, to reach our net zero goals by 2050, we need to triple at least, our nuclear energy supply.”

Once completed, the plant will produce roughly 840 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power 900,000 homes.

For Governor Whitmer, it's a big win for her 100% clean energy standard by 2040, and she says the state invested $150 million in last year's balanced budget.

"Restarting Palisades will grow our economy and help us protect our air, our land and our water. It will also help us improve people's lives," Whitmer said. "When a plant comes back to life, it represents hope for a brighter future. It means larger paychecks, more prosperity, a stronger sense of community."

She said regionally, it could lead to $363 million in economic impact.

Work is underway to license the future plant's operators, an 18-month process, as well as the rigorous approval process through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“They’ll do a whole series of inspections," Trice said. "They'll probably do 50 to100 inspections before this plant resumes operations.”

The project will provide 1000 jobs in the trades for the restart of the plant, then 600 permanent full-time jobs for the operation and maintenance of Palisades.

“Here in Van Buren County, those jobs, I know, represent both homecomings and new beginnings," Granholm said. "Many of the jobs are going to be refilled by people who worked here more than 20 years. Welcome home to the plant.”

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