UPDATE: Oct. 9, 2023: Holtec International announced Friday that it submitted a filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to formally begin the process of seeking federal reauthorization of power operations at the Palisades nuclear power plant. “Palisades’s safety and operational performance met the industry’s highest standards when it was taken offline last year. Its systems and equipment remain well maintained and in excellent material condition. This licensing submittal is the first of a series of submittals intended to return Palisades to full operation,” Jean Fleming, Holtec International vice president of licensing, regulatory affairs and probabilistic safety analysis, said in a statement.
Holtec International announced Tuesday the signing of a long-term power purchase agreement between its Palisades Energy subsidiary and Wolverine Power Cooperative, which provides energy to rural communities across Michigan.
The PPA signing represents a “giant step forward” on the repowering of the 800-MW Palisades Power Plant, Holtec said.
“The signing of this business agreement is a significant milestone to ensure assured operation of the facility and an enhanced carbon-free energy future for Michigan,” Holtec added.
Wolverine has committed to buy up to two-thirds of the power generated by Palisades for its member co-ops, with its non-profit rural electric cooperative project partner, Hoosier Energy, purchasing the rest.
Holtec International spokesperson Patrick O’Brien provided some additional details on the PPA.
“The agreement goes into effect upon restoration of generation capability, expected as early as late 2025. The term of the agreement is expected to coincide with the plant’s [Nuclear Regulatory Commission]-granted operating license (effective through 2031), plus a subsequent license renewal period Holtec anticipates pursuing with the NRC as part of the restart activities. It could cover decades,” O’Brien said in an email.
The PPA also has “a contract expansion provision to include up to two small modular reactors, rated at 300 MWe each, that Holtec intends to build and commission at the Palisades site.”
The Palisades nuclear plant closed in May 2022 due to tough financial conditions and was then acquired by Holtec in June 2022. According to Holtec, this would be the first time a shuttered nuclear plant has successfully restarted in the U.S.
“We are well aware that, although we see no real obstacles ahead, re-powering of a dormant plant such as Palisades would be a feat that has never been achieved before,” Holtec International CEO Kris Singh said in a statement.
Holtec submitted an application to the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office in early 2023 for federal loan funding to restart the Palisades plant.
“We are still working through the process with DOE’s loan program and expect late this year/early next year to hear a final decision,” O’Brien said in an email.
As for whether the PPA and the restart of the plant is contingent upon receiving the federal loan, O’Brien said, “finalization of the power purchase agreement is based on a number of factors including a successful repowering of the plant, predicated on financial support from” DOE’s Loan Program Office, the state of Michigan and Holtec.
Holtec has also met with NRC staff “to discuss the proposed regulatory path to reauthorize operations at Palisades within the agency’s existing regulatory framework,” the company said.
“We will continue to engage with the NRC and file any necessary regulatory actions needed,” O’Brien noted.