Palisades nuclear power plant denied federal funds to reopen

Holtec International’s application for funds to reopen Michigan’s Palisades nuclear power plant has been denied by the Department of Energy, the company announced on Twitter on Friday.

Holtec International applied for funds through the Energy Department’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program after the plant was officially shut down in May. The $6 billion program is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to keep existing reactors around the country running. Applicants must demonstrate that they will be closed for economic reasons and that carbon emissions and air pollutants will rise if they are closed.

“We appreciate the consideration that the Department of Energy (DOE) put into our application for the Civilian Nuclear Credit program,” Holtec spokesman Patrick O’Brien said in a statement. “We fully understood that what we were attempting to do, re-starting a shuttered nuclear plant, would be both a challenge and a first for the nuclear industry.”

Holtec International acquired the plant from Entergy Nuclear last December with the plan of decommissioning it. The plan was controversial as state Attorney General Dana Nessel doubted the company had the financial qualifications to swiftly and safely decommission the plant.

Steam rises from the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert, Michigan, February 17, 2022.

Several environmental groups took issue with the fact that Holtec planned to decommission the plant using solely a trust funded by Consumers Energy customers when the utility owned the plant and no money of its own. They also fear it could pose a threat to the Great Lakes if Holtec decides to ship nuclear waste to a storage facility in another state. Nessel and the activists tried to stop the license transfer from Entergy to Holtec but were not granted a hearing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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