Nonprofit backs Whitmer’s bid to keep nuclear plant running

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Todd Gustafson. Courtesy Kinexus Group

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked for federal aid in retaining Palisades Nuclear Plant in Van Buren County, a move backed by Benton-Harbor based workforce development agency Kinexus Group. 

The Entergy-owned plant generates 15% of Michigan’s clean energy and 6.5% of Michigan’s electricity. The plant is scheduled to shut down in May despite being licensed to operate through 2031. The shutdown is part of a nationwide series of closures this decade, largely due to operating losses, repair costs and competition from natural gas. 

In light of the approaching deadline for shutdown, Whitmer reached out to the U.S. Department of Energy asking that funds from the Biden administration’s new $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program be allocated to prevent the plant’s closure. 

Kinexus Group said Thursday, April 21, it supported Whitmer’s efforts to keep the plant operational.

“Kinexus Group strongly supports the efforts made by federal and state officials to keep the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Van Buren County open and stop the decommissioning of the plant,” said Todd Gustafson, president and CEO, Kinexus Group. “Palisades is not only a provider of carbon-free energy, but a main driver of the economy in Van Buren County. Including spin-off jobs and the high-paying positions at the plant, the plant has an economic impact of nearly 1,000 jobs and $363 million dollars in regional economic activity.” 

Palisades’ owner, Entergy, continues plans to shut down the plant, which will be dismantled by Holtec Decommissioning International but will entertain possible qualified buyers. 

The plant currently employs nearly 600 workers, 260 of whom plan to stay at Palisades to work with Holtec in decommissioning the plant. Around 130 Palisades employees will transfer to new positions within Entergy, while 180 others will be leaving the company. 

Zach Morris. Courtesy Market Van Buren

Market Van Buren, a subsidiary of Kinexus Group focused on economic development in Van Buren County, also voiced support for Palisades’ continued operation.

“Market Van Buren stands ready to work side by side with Gov. Whitmer and her team to develop a competitive incentives package to continue the operation of the Palisades Nuclear Plant, “ said Zach Morris, executive director, Market Van Buren.”Although the scheduled closure of the plant is rapidly approaching, we remain committed to our first duty, which is to preserve 600 high-paying jobs and nearly $10 million in annual property tax revenue for our community. Although the path forward may be complex, we feel real solutions are available to continue plant operations for the next decade.”

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