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Biden administration to lend $1.5 billion for Michigan nuclear power plant revival

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NEW DELHI: The US federal government has announced a $1.5 billion loan to revive a nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan. Originally slated for dismantling by Holtec International, the 800-megawatt Palisades plant is now set to be operational by late 2025, with backing from the state of Michigan and the Biden administration. Governor Gretchen Whitmer highlighted that this reopening would mark the first instance of a nuclear power plant restarting in the country.
Despite these plans, the Palisades plant must undergo various checks, tests, and gain approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) before resuming operations.Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stressed the significance of nuclear power as a major source of clean electricity, directly supporting numerous jobs nationwide.
Situated along Lake Michigan, the Palisades plant, previously owned by CMS Energy until its sale to Entergy in 2007, faces both support and opposition in its revival efforts. Holtec has secured commitments from two electric cooperatives for power purchase agreements, aiming to provide steady electricity to households, businesses, and manufacturers.
While Holtec President Kris Singh expressed confidence in the plant’s revival, critics have raised concerns. A coalition opposing the restart of the plant, referring to it as a “zombie reactor,” has called for a hearing at the NRC. Holtec spokesperson Patrick O’Brien mentioned that finalizing the financial deal with the government will take several months, emphasizing that the loan is to be repaid.
The attention on nuclear energy has been growing, with 34 countries, including the US, committing to its use for reducing reliance on fossil fuels. In a similar vein, California regulators extended the operating period of the Diablo Canyon plant to 2030, citing the need for reliable power sources during the transition to renewables.
Engineering professor Najmedin Meshkati highlighted the challenges involved in restarting a nuclear plant, stressing the importance of stringent safety measures. The onus is on the NRC and Holtec to ensure the safety and integrity of the Palisades plant as it moves towards resuming operations.
(With agency inputs)

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