American Nuclear Society on DOE Loan to Restart Closed Michigan Nuclear Plant

American Nuclear Society on DOE Loan to Restart Closed Michigan Nuclear Plant

WASHINGTON, D.C.  The American Nuclear Society (ANS), a nonprofit representing over 10,000 professionals in the fields of nuclear science and technology, issued the following statements regarding today’s announcement of a $1.5 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for repowering the shuttered Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township, Michigan.

The single-unit 800-megawatt Palisades nuclear power plant was shuttered in May 2022 and subsequently acquired by Holtec International for decommissioning. In October 2023, Holtec submitted an operating licensing application for Palisades with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), with the intention of seeking financial assistance from the DOE to restore the facility’s commercial operations. Holtec has indicated interest in expanding Palisades with two small modular reactors as well.

Statement from Craig Piercy, CEO and Executive Director of ANS:

“Michiganders stand to benefit from cleaner air and a stronger, more resilient power grid from the planned restart of the Palisades nuclear power plant. Palisades would be the first decommissioning nuclear power plant in America to reopen.”

“Unfavorable market conditions caused Palisades’ premature closure in 2022; today’s push to reverse that business decision is being driven by climate and energy priorities. Restarting Palisades means the return of a reliable and dispatchable source of zero-carbon baseload electricity, capable of helping Michigan meet its clean energy needs year-round without interruption.”

Statement from Kenneth Petersen, 2023-24 President of ANS:

“Michiganders have been struggling with the environmental consequences of the premature loss of carbon-free energy from Palisades. Repowering Palisades would restore Michigan’s air quality to pre-shutdown levels and help a backsliding Michigan achieve carbon neutrality for its electricity consumption by 2040.”

“The loss of 800 megawatts of 24/7 clean baseload power from Palisades led to an increase in natural gas-fired generation, which is both carbon-emitting and interruptible in its fuel supply. As forewarned by the combined Michigan and Ohio Section of ANS in a 2022 letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, wind turbines and solar panels are too land-intensive, weather-dependent, and intermittent in their electricity production to fill the vacuum left by Palisades.”

Statement from ANS member Dr. Mehdi Sarram, Iran’s first licensed nuclear engineer and University of Michigan graduate (Master’s class of 1967):

“Restart of the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan would be another milestone in the production of clean energy within the state. Restarting Palisades is the right decision. The plant was shut down in 2022 but its new owner filed an application with the NRC to formally begin the process of seeking reauthorization of power operation. The restart process includes a thorough review by the NRC for licensing. Since the reactor was operating until 2022, the licensing process may not be as lengthy as for a new nuclear plant design.”

Statement from ANS member Keith Drudy, a native Michigander and nuclear engineer who worked on the new Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors in Georgia:

“Having grown up in West Michigan, the restart of the Palisades nuclear plant with the potential for expansion into new nuclear is very exciting. Michigan is a beautiful state, combining vibrant commercial and industrial sectors with vast areas of magnificent natural sites. With tremendous growth in that specific region over the past couple decades, clean and reliable power is essential to sustaining that trend while protecting the natural majesty of the state. As a bonus, revitalizing Palisades nuclear power plant will directly impact the region’s economy positively by bringing back many well-paying careers that were lost when the plant originally decided to shut down.”

“That said, I could understand how the average citizen may be unsure of what a nuclear plant restart from declared decommissioning might mean. My grandma recently texted me asking if she should be concerned. My response to her was that this is really more of a regulatory and legal statement than a technical one.”

“In fact, restarting Palisades from its current state is really no more complicated than returning from a significant maintenance outage – something that nuclear plants do every 18 to 24 months. The nuclear industry knows how to do maintenance, implement upgrades and enhancements, and how to keep these plants running for 60 years and beyond. The unique challenge here is that, until now, there has been no regulatory process or precedent for declaring that a licensee intends to cease operations of a plant and then return that plant back to operating status from a regulatory perspective. That process is now being developed, and I have no doubt that the NRC and other impacted regulatory agencies can and will ensure the restart of these units meets all standards and requirements.”

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