THREAT LEVEL: VERY HIGH
The Palisades Nuclear Generating Station is an 811 MW nuclear power plant located on Lake Michigan, in Covert Township, Michigan, on a 432-acre site. It has been generating electricity since December 1971, and is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate until 2031. It produces enough energy to power 800,000 homes. The plant generates 600 well-paid jobs.
The owner, Entergy Corp., plans to close the Palisades plant in May 2022. The utility that purchased its output, Consumers Energy, is buying the fracked gas plant New Covert to make up for lost generation. Our system for regulating electricity prices is doing what we designed it to do, decades ago: minimize electricity bills, no matter the impact on jobs, the regional economy, or the global climate. While shale economics initiated the closure of Palisades, gas prices have started rising again, putting rate-payers at risk. Let’s not let that happen here in Michigan. (See our Campaign!)
The Palisades plant was built in the late 1960s and has been operating commercially since 1973. The plant was sold to Entergy Corporation in 2007, and since then has sold energy to Consumers Energy, a utility company in Michigan. The plant's original license was due to expire in 2011. A 20-year license extension was granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2007, extending the license expiration date to 2031.
Consumers Energy attempted to buy its way out of a power purchase agreement it has with Entergy and the plant. This prompted Entergy to decide to close the plant in October 2018. A decision by the Michigan Public Service Commission influenced the company to keep the plant open three years longer than planned. Entergy now plans to close the Palisades plant in the Spring of 2022, when the fifteen-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy expires. Consumers Energy said it would replace the lost generating capacity through the purchase of an existing gas plant (New Convert). This decision to discontinue purchasing power from Palisades was motivated by the availability of lower cost energy from natural gas. Yet it means that Michigan's energy emissions will rise substantially.
Entergy announced it has agreed to sell Palisades to Holtec International for decommissioning. Holtec International acquires retired nuclear plants to decommission them. This transfer of the Palisades plant to Holtec would occur after the plant is shut down in Spring of 2022, and is awaiting approval of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Community groups are struggling to fill the vacuum left by Palisade's closure. On 24 February 2021, Dana Nessel, the Attorney General of Michigan, filed a petition with the NRC objecting to the transfer of Palisades to Holtec on the grounds that Holtec lacks adequate financial resources and has underestimated the cost of decommissioning the plant. Although Attorney General Nessel is attempting to block the transfer of Palisades to Holtec, she supports the closure and decommissioning of the plant.
What You Can Do
Palisades Historical Performance
Events & Press relating to Palisades
October 14th 2021, Opinion in Bridge Michigan, by Dr. Todd Allen, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan