Pro-nuclear climate activists urge Michigan governor to save power plant

Gretchen Whitmer
(Image credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

More than 230 "experts and concerned citizens" signed a letter written by advocacy group Protect Nuclear Now begging Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) not to close the state's Palisades nuclear plant, according to a statement the group released Wednesday.

Palisades is one of three nuclear plants in Michigan and provides enough carbon-free electricity to power 800,000 homes, according to the state's energy department and Entergy, the company that operates the plant.

Protect Nuclear Now notes that although Entergy opted to stop running the plant in May as part of a larger "strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business," Palisades is licensed to operate until 2031.

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"The 2017 business decision to close Palisades was apparently based on losses from short-term market conditions" such as the low price of oil at the time, the letter to Whitmer notes. "Since then, our climate priorities have become more urgent, and economic conditions have changed."

Whitmer's office announced in September that she had secured a $6-million infrastructure grant from the Department of Commerce that would help compensate for the closure of Palisades by "attracting high-tech" employers, including renewable energy companies, to southwestern Michigan.

Todd Allen, who signed the letter and heads the University of Michigan's pro-nuclear Fastest Path to Zero program, said Palisades' output would more likely be "replaced by … fossil fuels."

The letter to Whitmer points out that President Biden's 2021 infrastructure bill includes $6 billion to save "existing zero-carbon nuclear plants."

According to government documents, the bill included these funds because multiple U.S. nuclear plants are "at risk for early closure" or "have already closed permanently due to economic circumstances," CNBC reported.

Behind the Protect Nuclear Now initiative is an organization known as Climate Coalition, which describes itself as "a coalition of independent activists" that "does not raise funds from donors" and has "no paid employees."

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