Closing the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert Township means finding a place for spent nuclear fuel and determining where power currently generated by the plant will come from.
WMUK’s Rebecca Thiele has covered those subjects in stories for WMUK, Great Lakes Today and Marketplace. On WestSouthwest, we hear her stories and get some additional background on the closing of Palisades.
Other nuclear power plants across the country are also closing. Thiele says other forms of energy, such as natural gas, are cheaper. Plus states like Michigan have set a portfolio standard for utilities to provide a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources.
The closing of the Palisades Plant means the elimination of 600 jobs. Thiele reported on the loss of revenue to local governments and school districts. She says places like South Haven will continue to have tourism-related jobs, but Palisades also offered good jobs for resident who live there year around.
Another question about Palisades is whether enough money is set aside to decommission the plant. Thiele says the process can take many years, and even decades. That’s in part because time is needed for radiation to dissipate. Palisades was due to close in 2022, but last year the date was moved up to 2018. Thiele says the company did not have as much time as originally thought to put money away for decommissioning the plant. She says it’s not known right now if there will be enough money to shut the plant down.
Whenever Palisades is shut down, there will be spent nuclear fuel at the site. Thiele says that waste will be stored in casks on the site. For many years there has been a debate over moving nuclear waste to one spot, Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Frank Rusco of the Government Accountability office says safe transportation could be provided, but it doesn’t exist right now. And Rusco says it would be expensive. Thiele says the waste will remain radioactive for years, meaning there is a need for long-term planning for its disposal.
Consumers Energy, which sold Palisades to Entergy Corporation, is looking to end its agreement for providing energy from the plant. The Michigan Public Service Commission has to sign off on that agreement. The MPSC is holding two public hearings on closing Palisades on Monday May 8th in Lawrence.