US company Holtec International has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Holtec Maintenance & Modification International (HMI), with the initial focus being the restart of the Palisades NPP.

Holtec said the mission of HMI is “to meet the time-critical maintenance and modification needs of the world’s operating nuclear power plants with assured performance certainty”. HMI “is poised to introduce cutting edge technologies such as AI-aided preventive maintenance and robot-led crew radiation dose reduction methods at its clients’ plants”. According to Holtec, “the resulting structured operational platform, which HMI calls its ‘transformative management model’, is at the core of HMI’s vision to energise the presently placid business sector of modification and maintenance that is widely considered to have suffered from lack of technology and capital infusion”.

Holtec believes the HMI management model “will bring about a vastly improved control of operating costs of nuclear plants and ensure heightened plant reliability, which will support the expected renaissance in nuclear generation around the world”. HMI is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee and led by Christopher Bakken IV. HMI will operate under its parent company programmes on nuclear quality assurance, environmental protection, personnel safety assurance, Corporate Governance, and supply management, but will be otherwise autonomous in its conduct of business.

“HMI’s initial project is to help accelerate the ongoing rejuvenation of the Palisades plant, owned by the Holtec subsidiary Palisades Energy LLC (PEL), to restart the 840 MWe plant in Covert, Michigan,” said Bakken IV. “Discussions with other clients in the US and overseas are underway.” PEL President Kelly Trice said: “We look to Chris and his team to render their professional magic to accelerate Palisades ongoing extended outage underpinned by Holtec’s world class quality assurance to help us achieve a successful re-powering of the Palisades by the end of 2025.”

Holtec agreed to purchase Palisades from operator Entergy in 2018, ahead of its scheduled closure, for decommissioning. When the acquisition was completed in June 2022, Holtec planned to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of the plant by 2041. However, Holtec then announced plans to apply for federal funding to enable it to reopen the plant, with support from Michigan Governor Gretchen. The State of Michigan's Fiscal Year 2024 budget, provides $150m in funding towards the plant's restart. In March, the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office also conditionally committed up to $1.52bn for a loan guarantee to support the project to bring the Palisades plant back online by the end of 2025. Holtec has also said it intends to locate its first two small modular reactor (SMR) units at Palisades.

HMI will collaborate closely with the Company’s Nuclear Power Division (NPD) to provide replacement components and systems – reverse engineered as necessary to replace obsolescent items – to meet target outage schedules. NPD’s highly regarded Site Services Group, which prepares procedures, computer simulations and document packages for plant modification will serve as a valuable partner to HMI. “With the launch of HMI, we can now provide an integrated capability to meet the operating needs of the scores of SMR-300 plants that we hope to be building in the US and around the world,“ said Dr Rick Springman, Holtec’s President of Global Clean Energy Opportunities.

Image: Palisades nuclear power plant