US-based Holtec International says it has submitted a filing with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to begin the process of seeking federal reauthorisation of power operations at the Palisades NPP. The single-unit 800 MWe pressurised water reactor at Palisades NPP in Michigan began commercial operation in 1971. Operator Entergy announced in 2016 announced plans to close the plant in 2021 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved transfer of the licence from Entergy to Holtec in preparation for its decommissioning. The reactor was removed from service by Entergy in May 2022, and was defuelled. Its sale to Holtec was completed in June 2022 and Holtec then announced that it was applying for federal funding to allow restart of the plant.

“Our licensing submittal is a significant step in exploring the potential for Palisades to continue contributing to the region’s energy and economic needs, while adhering to the highest safety and regulatory standards,” said Jean Fleming, Holtec International Vice President of Licensing, Regulatory Affairs & Probabilistic Safety Analysis. “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.”

In early 2023, Holtec applied to the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Loan Programs Office for federal loan funding to repower Palisades. The company is working cooperatively with the Department to move the loan application process forward. In July, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law the State of Michigan’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which provides $150m in funding for the plant’s restart. In September, Holtec jointly announced a multi-decades long power purchase agreement (PPA) with Michigan’s not-for-profit rural electric cooperative Wolverine Power Cooperative for the sale of Palisades’s power output.

“Holtec plans to build up the Palisades site into a mega-clean energy provider to the region with the restarted Palisades Power Plant as its centerpiece,” said Kelly Trice, Holtec International President of Nuclear Generation & Decommissioning.

Image: Palisades nuclear power plant (courtesy of Holtec)