Holtec to reapply for funding to restart Palisades

20 December 2022

Holtec International has announced its intention to reapply for federal funding to allow it to restart the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan, which closed down in May after more than 50 years in operation. An application earlier this year was unsuccessful.

Palisades (Image: Holtec)

Holtec agreed in 2018 to purchase the plant for decommissioning from operator Entergy, completing the acquisition in June. In July, Holtec - with the support of Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer - submitted an application for funding under the US Department of Energy's Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) programme in July, just days after completing its acquisition of the plant. The CNC programme is a USD6 billion strategic investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help keep the USA's existing reactor fleet in operation.

In a 9 September letter to US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Whitmer said: "I will do everything I can to keep this plant open, protect jobs, increase Michigan's competitiveness, lower costs, and expand clean energy production. We know the path ahead is not easy, but we are not going to let that stop us from fighting for economic opportunity for Southwest Michigan and reliable, clean energy for the state. Just because something's never been done before does not mean it cannot be done in Michigan."

However, in November, Holtec announced that its bid for funding had been unsuccessful.

The company has now announced that it will reapply for the next round of funding under the CNC programme.

"The repowering of Palisades is of vital importance to Michigan's clean energy future," Holtec said in a statement. "As Michigan transitions from fossil-fuel generation to renewables and emerging advanced technologies, baseload nuclear generation is an essential backstop. Based on the supportive feedback we have received, Holtec will be reapplying for the next round of funding through the US Department of Energy's Civil Nuclear Credit programme to support the repowering of Palisades.

"This 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 recognise the significant benefit in providing a safe, reliable, carbon-free power source, as well as providing a significant economic impact through good paying jobs and the use of many local goods and services - leads us to believe this is the best path forward for the facility and our state."

The 805 MWe Palisades pressurised water reactor was removed from service by Entergy on 20 May, and defuelled by 10 June. Holtec's acquisition of the plant - together with the decommissioned Big Rock Point nuclear power plant, where a dry fuel storage facility remains - was completed later that month. At that time, Holtec said it envisaged a 19-year timeline for the Palisades decommissioning project, with the transfer of fuel from wet to dry storage to be completed by 2025 and complete decommissioning of the plant (with the exception of the dry storage facility) by 2041.

Following decommissioning, most of the site - except for the area occupied by the dry storage facility - will be available for industrial use. Holtec has previously said that installation of a plant based on its SMR-160 small modular reactor could be a viable repurposing of the site.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News