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Whitmer asks feds to keep west Michigan nuclear plant running

The Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, MI.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, MI.

Michigan is asking the federal government for an emergency infusion of money to keep a west Michigan nuclear power plant from shutting down.

Current Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is now US Energy Secretary, seeking aid to avert the decommissioning of the Palisades nuclear plant in Covert.

“Keeping Palisades open is a top priority,” Whitmer wrote. “Doing so will allow us to make Michigan more competitive for economic projects bringing billions in investment, protect hundreds of good-paying jobs for Michigan workers, and shore up Michigan’s clean energy supply and provide lower energy costs for working families and small businesses.”

Without the funding, the 50-year-old Palisades plant is set to permanently shut down next month.

The plant is a major element of Governor Whitmer’s efforts for Michigan’s energy sources to be carbon neutral by 2050. Dan Scripps chairs the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state’s utility-regulating agency.

He says this is not a done deal and there are a lot of pieces that must quickly fall into place. “But at least there’s a way forward at this point, and so I think we’ve got an opportunity and we need to do the best we can to take it,” he told Michigan Public Radio.

That includes settling business details, finding a willing buyer for the plant, and regulatory approval.

While environmental groups have typically opposed turning to nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels, many say they’re on board with keeping an existing nuclear plant operating as part of the state’s plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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