Climate group calls for Palisades closure to be stopped
COVERT, Mich. — A climate coalition has penned a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer with 200 signatures from environmentalists asking for her office to stop the closure of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert.
Entergy is soon to be the previous owner of Palisades in Van Buren County.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved its transfer to Holtec, which will oversee the closure and decommissioning of Palisades in May.
“We’re trying to raise the alarm that shutting down the largest source of clean energy in the middle of a climate crisis a serious and costly mistake,” said Mackenzie Warwick, a PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan and member of the Women In Nuclear Student Chapter.
The letter – sent to Governor Whitmer last week by climate group Protect Nuclear NOW claims losing Palisades would be worse than demoliting all renewable energy sources in Michigan – and, the plant itself provides one-third of the state’s carbon-free electricity.
“There are nine years left on the operating license at Palisades, we have almost a decade of clean energy produced,” said Warwick. “What would we replace it with? Probably natural gas, it’s going to lead to increase carbon generation, increased energy prices.”
Entergy is sticking by it’s decision to close Palisades, they said:
“The Palisades plant will permanently shut down in May of 2022, after which the facility will be transferred to Holtec International for purposes of safe and timely decommissioning. Since the closure announcement in 2017, Entergy has consistently communicated that plants in its merchant power fleet in competitive markets are challenged due to adverse market conditions, including low wholesale energy prices. The closure is also part of Entergy’s strategy to exit from the wholesale nuclear generation business and move to being a pure play utility company. In addition, the shutdown coincides with the expiration of the plant’s 15-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy.
Entergy recognizes the impact the closure of Palisades will have on the community. The company remains in regular, active communication with federal, state, and local officials and key community stakeholders regarding the transition to decommissioning.
We value our employees and are diligently working with them. After the plant closes and goes through defueling, approximately 260 workers will stay on with the plant as part of the first phase of decommissioning. Entergy has also offered all qualified employees the opportunity to remain employed with Entergy and relocate within the company. A significant portion of the workforce will be retirement eligible once the plant closes. And, Entergy is working to provide additional supportive services for those current Palisades employees who do not relocate within the Entergy system, remain at Palisades as part of the decommissioning organization, or retire.
Entergy remains committed to its utility nuclear power fleet. Entergy operates five nuclear units in rate-regulated power markets in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, producing more than 5,000 megawatts of clean, reliable, and economic electricity for customers in those regions.”
“The NRC has determined that Holtec possesses the required technical and financial qualifications to decommission Palisades safely, and in accordance with NRC requirements. The health and safety of the public is Entergy’s and Holtec’s number one priority, and we take this responsibility seriously. The decommissioning organization has been staffed with current Palisades employees – the same nuclear professionals whose focus ranks Palisades in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s highest safety category.
The NRC will continue to provide oversight both before and during the decommissioning process. Holtec is currently safely decommissioning the Indian Point Energy Center in New York, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts, and the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey.”
Van Buren County has also created a Palisades Community Action Panel.
Their next meeting is March 9th from 6 – 8 p.m. at the South Haven Campus of Lake Michigan College.