Biden administration announces $1.5 billion loan for first reopening of a shuttered nuclear plant

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a $1.5 billion loan to restart a Michigan nuclear power plant.

The loan, made through the Energy Department’s Loan Program’s Office with Inflation Reduction Act funds, will allow Holtec to restart the Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert Township. The restoration, if approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, would be the first instance of the U.S. recommissioning a shuttered nuclear plant.

The plant operated from around 1977 through 2022 and was acquired by a Louisiana-based utility in 2007. When brought back online, the Energy Department projects the 800-megawatt Palisades plant will produce power through at least 2051. The state Legislature has also allocated $150 million to recommission the facility. The administration and the state of Michigan have set a target of a late 2025 restart.

“Nuclear power is our single largest source of carbon free electricity, directly supporting 100,000 jobs across the country and hundreds of thousands more indirectly,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, in a statement. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is supporting and expanding this vibrant clean energy workforce here in Michigan with significant funding for the Holtec Palisades nuclear power plant.”

“Once open, Palisades will be the first successfully restarted nuclear power plant in American history, driving $363 million of regional economic impact and helping Michigan lead the future of clean energy,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said in a statement. “I am so grateful to my bipartisan partners in the Michigan Legislature, the Biden-Harris Administration, Holtec, and labor for coming together to get this done. Together, we are showing the world that Michigan is a place where history is made by hardworking people.”

The Biden administration has set a goal of a 100 percent renewable electrical grid by 2035. While nuclear power generates next to no carbon emissions, it fell out of favor in the U.S. in the late 20th century amid anxieties around potential accidents, particularly after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

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