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Michigan NewsGov. Whitmer will seek $150 million taxpayer money for shuttered nuclear plant...

Gov. Whitmer will seek $150 million taxpayer money for shuttered nuclear plant reopening, to team up with Biden admin

Michigan – Michigan might be on track to be the first state in the U.S. to ever reopen a closed nuclear power plant. This could happen if the Biden administration decides to spend a big chunk of government money for the sake of promoting clean energy.

The Palisades nuclear power plant might get another $150 million from Michigan's taxpayers, doubling what's already been put in its reopening

The Biden team is pushing hard to meet an ambitious goal by 2035 to cut down on harmful gases that warm the planet and to shift the U.S. towards using energy that doesn’t pollute. Some places are trying to hit this target even sooner and are putting their money into reaching it.

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According to a recent report by Michigan Times, the Biden administration is thinking about giving a $1.5 billion loan to a company to fix up a nuclear plant in Michigan. If this plan works out, it’ll be the first time in the U.S. that a nuclear reactor that was shut down gets started up again.

Michigan already provided $150 million for the nuclear plant

The Palisades nuclear power plant might get another $150 million from Michigan’s taxpayers, doubling what’s already been put in to get the closed plant up and running again.

Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has put forward a budget plan for the next year that includes an extra $150 million to help restart the plant. This plant is located near Lake Michigan in Van Buren County, just a bit south of South Haven.

This new money is in addition to $150 million given last year and depends on getting more money from the federal government. There’s news that the federal government might give a $1.5 billion loan for the plant, and they’re also thinking about a separate subsidy request.

The Palisades nuclear power plant was closed in 2022

Governor Whitmer is all for getting the plant, which shut down in May 2022 after its previous owners found it too expensive to run compared to wind, solar, or natural gas energy, back into action.

Read also: Biden approves millions in federal funds for thousands of Michiganders as presidential-run support wanes

In a statement Thursday, Whitmer spokesperson Bobby Leddy touted the plant’s potential to bring back hundreds of “good-paying, high-skill jobs” while delivering carbon-free power to about 800,000 homes.

“We are showing the world that Michigan will be an epicenter of clean energy production and do what it takes to save jobs, protect local communities, and deliver reliable power to homes and small businesses,” Leddy said.

The push to restart the Palisades nuclear power plant has supporters from both political parties in the Michigan Legislature. However, some people are against it, calling it a dangerous waste of money on an industry that’s not doing well and a very old plant that’s seen better days.

Some oppose the project, prefer other projects to be funded

These critics think the money going to Palisades should instead support renewable energy, improve public transportation, or fund other projects that would reduce the use of oil, coal, and gas.

“It’s a joke, but it’s not funny,” said Kevin Kamps of the anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear to Bridge Michigan. “Why don’t the state and federal government just hand the keys to the Treasury over (to) this company?”

Read also: Several Democratic elected leaders continue to undermine Biden’s bid in Michigan, Gov. Whitmer calls for support

Holtec International, a company from New Jersey, bought Palisades from Entergy in June 2022, planning to earn from taking the plant apart. However, they changed their plan, deciding to reopen the plant if they get financial help from taxpayers, which could total in the billions.

While it was working, the nuclear power from Palisades was sometimes 57 percent more costly than the going rate for energy. Yet, shutting it down meant Michigan’s power network lost 800 megawatts of clean energy, which was a big deal.

To fight the worst outcomes of climate change, like severe flooding, widespread wildfires, and the loss of winter seasons, experts believe the world needs to stop adding greenhouse gases to the air by the middle of this century. This means quickly moving away from using coal and natural gas for energy.

A decision worth reconsidering  

Shutting down the Palisades nuclear power plant, which didn’t produce these harmful gases, was a step back in this effort.

While it was running, Palisades provided about 10% of the peak electricity that Consumers Energy needed. After it closed, energy from fossil fuels filled the gap.

The suggestion to give more money to Palisades has made the Michigan Environmental Council, which previously liked the idea of keeping the plant open, question the move.

Charlotte Jameson, who helps lead the council, thinks the money for Palisades and other budget decisions, like reducing money for public transportation, show that the proposed budget doesn’t focus enough on Michigan’s environmental and community health.

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A representative from the U.S. Department of Energy wouldn’t say for sure if they are going to give a $1.5 billion federal loan to help get Palisades running again, saying any such news is just guesswork.