WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The governor of Michigan said last week she wants a nuclear power plant to reopen to save jobs and help curb climate change, but the company that bought the plant said there are many hurdles to save the facility.
ClearView Energy Partners, a non-partisan research group, said the process for saving the plant is "murky at best."
Holtec International bought the 805 megawatt Palisades plant in May to decommission the facility, a long and costly process.
But with a resurgence in interest in virtually-emissions free power generation, Holtec has applied for funding in a Department of Energy (DOE) program to keep the plant running.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a letter https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/news/press-releases/2022/09/09/whitmer-announces-plan-with-holtec-to-reopen-palisades-plant last week urged U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm - herself a former Michigan governor - to keep Palisades open to save 600 high-paying union jobs at the plant and 1,100 local jobs it supports.
If the DOE awards funding from its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) program, it could "potentially reactivate" the plant to help bridge energy needs until a new generation of small modular reactors, or SMRs, are ready, Holtec said in a statement. Holtec hopes to have its SMR technology in use by 2030, though where they might be deployed remains to be seen.
ClearView Energy Partners, however, said Palisades' closure is "likely to be permanent."
The plant is out of nuclear fuel, faces a control rod drive seal issue that needs to be fixed, and may need a new company to operate it, and a buyer for the power it generates, ClearView said.
Holtec called the application an initial step and acknowledged "there are a number of hurdles to restarting the facility that would need to be bridged."
The company said it will work with the state, federal government, and a potential third-party operator to see if restarting is a "viable option."
The DOE said it could not comment on applications to the CNC program funded by last year's bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The department is also reviewing an application from PG&E Corp for Diablo Canyon, a nuclear plant in California set to fully shut in 2025. DOE will announce "any conditional awards" as soon as 30 days after the Sept. 6 deadline, a spokesperson said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington; additional reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Berkrot)