State hearing comment about possible Palisades closure

LAWRENCE, Mich. (WOOD) — As many as a hundred people attended a public hearing in Lawrence Monday afternoon to talk about the future of nuclear power in southwest Michigan.

The Michigan Public Service Commission is deciding whether to allow Consumers Energy and Entergy to terminate their operating contract early. If approved, Entergy says it would shut down the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven in October 2018.

Consumers Energy and Entergy entered into a 15-year contract in 2007. It’s currently set to expire in 2022. In late December, the companies announced an agreement to terminate their contract early and end energy production at the plant.

Consumers has offered to pay Entergy more than $170 million to terminate the contract four years early. Consumers wants to recover the cost of the buyout payment from its ratepayers.

“We’re really looking out for ratepayers of Consumers Energy in making sure that the decisions they’re pursuing and actions are beneficial to customers and ensure reliability,” Sally Talberg, the chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission, said.

Karl Andrews worked was an engineer for Consumers for 30 years and spent some of that time at Palisades. He’s against early termination of the contract.

“The plant is efficient and it is making money, and there’s no reason to shut it down early,” he said.

But others told the Commission nuclear energy isn’t safe.

“They haven’t figured out any way of dealing with the thousands of tons of spent fuel there, which is sitting 150 yards from Lake Michigan,” said Mark Muhich, chairman of the Sierra Club Nuclear Free Michigan Committee.

The Commission will hear formal testimony from expert witnesses starting in June and release its decision in August.