Biden to offer $1.5B loan to restart Michigan nuclear power plant

Biden to offer .5B loan to restart Michigan nuclear power plant

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The Biden administration is poised to loan US$1.5 billion to restart a closed Michigan nuclear power plant, paving the way for a shuttered reactor to reopen in the U.S. for the first time.

The funding, which is set to get conditional backing from the U.S. Energy Department, will be offered as soon as next month to closely held Holtec International Corp. to restart its Palisades nuclear plant, according to people familiar with the matter.

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The financing comes as the Biden administration prioritizes maintaining the nation’s fleet of nuclear plants to help meet its ambitious climate goals — including a plan to decarbonize the electricity grid by 2035. More than a dozen reactors have closed since 2013 amid competition from cheaper power from natural gas and renewables, and the Energy Department has warned that as many of half of the nation’s nuclear reactors are at risk of closing due to economic factors.

A spokeswoman for the Energy Department’s loan programs office declined to comment, citing business confidentiality.

Nick Culp, a Holtec spokesman, said the company was “very optimistic” about the Energy Department loan process.

“This is a historic opportunity for the country and Michigan,” Culp said. “As we transition away from fossil fuels, nuclear is going to be a critical part of not only reaching our climate goals but doing so in a way that ensures the lights stay on.”

Holtec acquired the 800-megawatt power plant in 2022 after Entergy Corp. closed it due to financial reasons, but began pushing forward with plans to restart after pleas from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

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The Juniper, Florida-based company’s plans for a restart got a boost after Wolverine Power Cooperative, a local power company, agreed to buy as much as two-thirds of the plant’s output starting as soon as late 2025, though additional hurdles, including sign off from federal nuclear regulators, remains.

The funding will be backed by a loan guarantee program designed to revitalize old energy plants that was created in President Joe Biden’s climate law. If successful, Palisades would be the first nuclear reactor financed by the Biden administration.

Bloomberg.com

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