Company delays planned closure of Palisades nuclear plant


COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A controversial southwest Michigan nuclear power plant will stay open for another five years.

Entergy was working to close its Palisades plant as early as next year. However the plant will now stay open until the spring of 2022, because it would have cost too much for Entergy and Consumers Energy to terminate their power purchase agreement early.

“We made the announcement this morning in a building,” said Val Gent, Palisades Power Plant Senior Communications Specialist. “We had our executives up on stairs, and they rolled out a banner that said, ‘2022.’ And the crowd applauded.”

Congressman Fred Upton issued the following statement following the announcement:

“As Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, I am delighted to hear the news. This is a welcomed announcement for the workers and the community. As a long-time supporter of safe, reliable, and secure nuclear energy, my goal all along was to make certain there was never any political interference with the operations of our nuclear facilities. I will continue to support an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that includes the safe operation of our nuclear facilities.”

Entergy and Consumers Energy entered into a 15-year contract in 2007. It’s set to expire in 2022. The companies announced in December an agreement to terminate their contract early. Consumers offered to pay more than $170 million to terminate the contract, but the Michigan Public Service Commission only agreed to a reimbursement of $136.6 million for Consumers Energy.

Palisades
An undated photo of the Palisades nuclear plant in Covert Township.

“There are many factors that go into a company’s big decision like this,” said Gent. “One of them being Michigan Public Service Commission’s ruling. Entergy decided that it’s more financially beneficial to continue to operate the plant through 2022 as opposed to closing it next year.”

But the math doesn’t add up for some opponents of nuclear energy.

“If I’m offered a $136 million, I’ll take the money and run,” said Bruce Brown with the Southwest Michigan Sierra Club. “If they want out of the business, why are they standing firm on $172 million instead of $136 million?”

“Well, this is a truly sad day for Michigan and beyond,” said Iris Potter with the Kalamazoo chapter of Michigan Safe Energy Future. “Life as we know it continues to be in jeopardy because Entergy Nuclear of Louisiana and Consumers Energy deny responsibility and made this immoral and unethical decision.”

Potter says she and other groups will continue to work to shut down Palisades before 2022.

The plant’s exact closing date in 2022 has yet to be determined, said Gent.