Federal Government Loans $1.5 Billion to Revive Palisades Nuclear Plant

The US Department of Energy is providing a $1.5 billion loan to help restart the idled Palisades Nuclear Plant in Southwest Michigan. 

The loan to plant owner Holtec International, announced Wednesday by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, aims to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs back to the region while advancing climate goals with carbon-free nuclear power. 

News of the funding first surfaced in January, but Holtec had earlier said that the plant’s reopening is contingent on the government loan.

Granholm, who is also a former governor of Michigan, celebrated the revival effort’s focus on safety and the community’s backing. Governor Gretchen Whitmer echoed nuclear’s importance while praising the federal-state-local partnership with Holtec to “show the world how to get it done.”

“By our estimates, to reach our net-zero goals by 2050 we need to triple, at least, our nuclear energy supply,” the Energy Secretary said. “This is a big win for America, a big win for the nation.”

The 800-megawatt Palisades could power 800,000 homes at full capacity. Its restart after beginning decommissioning two years ago under previous owner Entergy would make it the nation’s first nuclear plant returned to service post-shutdown. The DOE estimates an operating Palisades could offset over 4 million tons of yearly carbon emissions.

The $1.5 billion federal loan joins $150 million allocated by Michigan lawmakers and upwards of $500 million invested by Holtec itself, according to the company. Securing the DOE funding cleared a major hurdle, though Holtec must still obtain an operating license and other approvals from nuclear regulators by late 2025.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has formed a special panel overseeing the relicensing process. Nuclear expert Edwin Lyman urged holding Palisades to standards for new plants given its over 50-year age and condition after sitting inactive for years.  

While supportive overall, the Biden administration may provide additional nuclear investment, Granholm noted, including for small modular reactor technology Holtec aims to build at Palisades in the 2030s.

Currently at 300 employees, Palisades is hiring more workers — some returning after departing during decommissioning’s start. Holtec expects a 550-600 person workforce generating emissions-free electricity at full operations.

The prospect drew praise from Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga as boosting local jobs and energy security. But a handful of nearby residents protested over past incidents and had doubts about Holtec’s nuclear credentials.

Information for this story was found via the Detroit News, 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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