How to reopen a nuclear power plant

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Step 2: Fill in the money and permission

Help has come to the Palisades, with the state of Michigan earmarking $300 million to help rebuild the plant over the past two years. And now, the Department of Energy has issued a loan totaling $1.52 billion.

Holtec will need to meet certain technical and legal requirements to obtain the loan, which will eventually be repaid with interest. (Holtec and the DOE Loan Programs Offices declined to provide details on the loan’s status or timing.)

State funding and state loans will help make needed repairs and upgrades to the plant’s equipment and continue to pay the roughly 200 workers who have been there since it closed. The company employed about 700 people while it was operating, and the company is in the process of hiring more employees to help with the recovery, Culp said.

One of the biggest questions remaining about the Palisades reboot is getting approval from regulators. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversees nuclear power plants in the US, but the agency does not have an official process for re-accrediting a previous plant. Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear engineering at MIT said:

Palisades also gave up legal rights to operate when it shut down and removed fuel from the power plant. Holtec must submit detailed plans to the NRC with information on how it plans to reopen and operate the plant safely.

Holtec began re-licensing work with the NRC in October 2023 and plans to ship all of its equipment this year.

Part 3: Profit?

If regulators sign off, the plan is for Palisades to be operational again by the end of 2025. Oil has already been produced, and the company has long-term customers committed to producing all the energy, Culp says.

If all goes well, the plant could be producing power until 2051, 80 years after it first started operating.

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