The Coal Trader

Coal Mining Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

DOE makes $1.5B conditional loan commitment to help restart Palisades nuclear plant

The 800-MW Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan could be restarted alongside the development of a pair of small modular reactors capable of doubling the facility’s output.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office on Wednesday announced a $1.5 billion conditional loan commitment to Holtec Palisades to support the company’s recommissioning of a Michigan nuclear plant.

The 800-MW Palisades plant was shuttered by Entergy in May 2022 due to difficult financial conditions. Holtec acquired the plant the following month.

If the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves necessary licenses, DOE said the Palisades plant would be upgraded to produce baseload power until at least 2051. Holtec already has long-term power purchase agreements in place for the plant’s full power output, signed with rural electric cooperatives Wolverine Power Cooperative and Hoosier Energy in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. 

“Once open, Palisades will be the first successfully restarted nuclear power plant in American history, driving $363 million of regional economic impact and helping Michigan lead the future of clean energy,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

DOE said the project is expected to avoid 4.47 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, across 25 years of expected operations.

“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,” Craig Piercy, CEO and executive director of the American Nuclear Society, said in a statement. “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.”

Holtec has already submitted three NRC licensing requests to reauthorize the Palisades reactor. The company anticipates submitting the remainder of required filings this spring, accoring to DOE.

Alongside the main reactor, though separate from DOE’s conditional loan commitment, Holtec has indicated that it intends to develop two small modular reactor units that could add an additional 800 MW of generation capacity at the site.

By Robert Walton

Source: UtilityDive