Are More Nuclear Restarts Coming?

In the wake of the US government’s $1.5 billion loan to Holtec International Corp. for the reopening of the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, there is growing speculation that more nuclear restarts may be on the horizon. Jigar Shah, director of the US Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office, hinted at the possibility of additional nuclear power plants being turned back on, although he refrained from naming specific facilities.

The shifting attitudes towards nuclear power can be attributed to the intensifying battle against climate change. While nuclear plants remain controversial due to their radioactive waste, some environmentalists now recognize their potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. This shift in perspective has led to decisions such as the five-year life extension of California’s last nuclear plant.

“A lot of the other players that have a nuclear power plant that has recently shut down and could be turned back on are gaining that confidence to try,” Shah said in an interview.

According to Doug True, chief nuclear officer for the Nuclear Energy Institute trade group, the current environment has changed significantly in a short period, prompting companies to reconsider the feasibility of nuclear restarts. However, not all shuttered plants are suitable for resurrection, with some already undergoing dismantling processes and others lacking the necessary maintenance.

One potential candidate for restart is Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island Unit 1, which closed in 2019 for economic reasons. Although Constellation Energy Corp. (Nasdaq: CEG), the plant’s owner, has not made a definitive decision on its future, CEO Joe Dominguez expressed support for the idea of restarting closed nuclear plants.

The federal government, while not actively pursuing a comprehensive plan to revive shuttered plants, recognizes the value of reactors and their carbon-free power. Michael Goff, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy, acknowledged that some closed plants have the potential to be reopened, as long as irreversible actions have not been taken.

Information for this story was found via Bloomberg, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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