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Palisades Nuclear Plant

MARK SAVAGE / Entergy

The change of ownership of the Palisades nuclear power plant took an important step this week.

The plant’s current owner, Entergy Corporation, agreed in 2018 to sell it to New Jersey-based Holtec International.      

This week, Entergy and Holtec submitted a License Transfer Application with federal regulators.

MARK SAVAGE / Entergy

This week, federal regulators will hold a public meeting to discuss plans to transfer the operating license for the Palisades nuclear power plant.   

Entergy Corp. agreed to sell the aging nuclear plant in southwest Michigan to Holtec Intl. in 2018.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A new report finds nuclear power plants in this region will face heat stress in the future because of climate change. The analysis from Moody's Investors Service is titled "Nuclear operators face growing climate risk, but resiliency investments mitigate impact."

In the report, analysts found the Cook, Fermi, and Palisades nuclear power plants in Michigan and the nearby Davis-Besse plant in Ohio fall into the High Risk category (although Palisades is scheduled to close in 2022).

Mark Savage / Entergy Corporation

A new bill would create a citizens advisory panel for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

Democratic State Representative Jon Hoadley introduced the bill. 

Mark Savage / Entergy Corporation

The Palisades nuclear power plant will shut down by the spring of 2022. The company that owns Palisades plans to sell it.

Located on the shore of Lake Michigan near South Haven, Palisades is the oldest of three operating nuclear power plants in the state.

Who would want to buy a nuclear plant that’s closing?

There’s opportunity for a company that can decommission a nuclear generating station faster and cheaper – more efficiently – than a utility company could.

Mark Savage / Entergy

The Palisades nuclear power plant will stay open until 2022 after all.

Late last year Entergy, the company that owns the plant, announced that Palisades would shut down early, in the fall of 2018.

Palisades spokesman Val Gent says they told employees Thursday morning, when executives unfurled a big banner that read “2022.”

Mark Savage / Entergy

The Michigan Public Service Commission is trying to decide if closing the Palisades nuclear power plant in southwest Michigan will save customers money. MPSC must sign off on Consumers Energy Company’s plan to end its agreement with Entergy, the company that owns Palisades, early.  

The Michigan Public Service Commission will hold back-to-back meetings for the public on May 8th in Lawrence, Michigan.

Natural gas power plant in California
David Monniaux / Wikimedia Commons

Consumers Energy wants to buy a power plant fired by natural gas to help replace the energy produced by the Palisades nuclear plant.

Consumers hopes the state will approve an agreement it has with Entergy, which owns Palisades, to close the nuclear plant near South Haven in 2018. Michigan’s Public Service Commission has until August to make that call.

Consumers says it’ll save customers money by closing Palisades. But it has to figure out how to replace all that energy.

Consumers spokesman Brian Wheeler says natural gas could be a big part of the plan.

Mark Savage / Entergy Corporation

A state board wants more information on how Consumers Energy will make up for the nearly 800 megawatts of power that will be lost after the Palisades Nuclear Plant’s planned shut down in 2018.

In documents filed this month, Consumers said it plans to make up for the lost nuclear power with an expanded wind farm in Michigan’s Thumb region, increased energy efficiency, and by purchasing power from within the regional electric grid.

Mark Savage / Entergy

This month the state should get some more information about the expected closure of the Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven.

The Michigan Public Service Commission sent a letter to Consumers Energy last month with a laundry list of questions about the planned closure.

Beach
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Public Service Commission wants answers from Consumers Energy about its plan to end its agreement with Entergy Nuclear Palisades, LLC to buy electricity from the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.

The plan would end the power purchase agreement about four years early and result in the permanent closure of the nuclear plant in October, 2018. 

The Commission is initiating a proceeding to make sure customers' energy needs will still be reliably met.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan's Palisades nuclear power plant is shutting down.

Entergy Corporation, the owner, made the decision after Consumers Energy, which had been purchasing the electricity from Palisades, ended its contract with Entergy early.

"The contract....is higher than market," says Consumers' Dan Bishop.  "It's more expensive than other sources in the market, so agreeing to end that contract early could save Consumers Energy electric customers as much as $172 million."

Consumers will also pay Entergy $172 million for the early termination of the contract.

Mark Savage / Entergy

Federal regulators will not propose a civil penalty against the owners of the Palisades nuclear plant. That’s after a years-long investigation found Palisades employees “willfully violated” federal rules.

Mark Savage / Entergy

The Palisades nuclear plant shut down this morning. The plant near South Haven was scheduled to shut down Sunday, according to a plant spokeswoman, but it shut down automatically after part of the turbine generator system failed.

Mark Savage / Entergy

The company that owns the Palisades Nuclear Plant near South Haven wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against it.

Twenty-two security supervisors claim they’re owed years of overtime pay.

In court documents, lawyers for Entergy admit “some or all” of the workers have put in overtime. But they say those workers don’t qualify for overtime under the law.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Regulators believe some workers at the Palisades Nuclear Plant got higher doses of radiation during a special project than the company says.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, workers got a radiation dose of up to 2,800 millirem (mrem) during the month long project. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

More than a dozen security officers are suing Entergy, the company that owns the Palisades Nuclear Plant.

Eighteen current and former security supervisors filed the federal lawsuit in Grand Rapids in late December, after a jury in Vermont found Entergy guilty in a similar case.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

A former security officer at the Palisades Nuclear Plant was not discriminated against for raising safety concerns. That’s the result of a special investigation released this week.

The security officer claimed her supervisors retaliated against her for raising a number of safety concerns at the plant near South Haven.

It’s a common complaint among security officers at the nuclear plant. So common the Nuclear Regulatory Commission spent a great deal of time last year investigating whether the “chilled work environment” has improved.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Staff at the Palisades Nuclear Plant will highlight the work done to update the plant, during a public open house in South Haven tonight.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says they’ll talk about a big project to replace almost all the control rod drives that have been problematic over the past decade.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Former workers at the Palisades nuclear plant are accusing management of lying to regulators about attempts to fix a work environment where managers put a chill on critical feedback from employees. 

Thursday night’s meeting to review Palisades' performance last year started out pretty typically.

Regulators noted a survey that found security officers fear retaliation if they raise certain concerns.

Company officials got a chance to respond. Otto Gustafson, Director of Regulatory and Performance Improvement at Palisades, said management is taking the concerns very seriously and outlined a plan to correct the problem. 

But then Chris Malich stepped to the microphone during the public comment portion of the meeting and called Gustafson and other officials out.

“I’ve seen it over and over,” Malich told regulators, “They’ve said things are going to change, things are going to change, and they stay the same.”

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.
Entergy Corporation

People will get two opportunities this week to hear how the Palisades nuclear plant is doing. Palisades was recently listed as one of the worst-performing plants in the country.

Regulators have raised the plant's official safety rating, but they say the safety culture among security staff still needs to improve.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The head of the nation’s nuclear regulatory agency toured two nuclear plants in southwest Michigan Friday.

NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane wanted to see how the plants are doing in the wake of the disaster at a nuclear plant in Japan. Congressman Fred Upton joined Macfarlane for the visits to the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant and the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, both of which are located in his district.

Nuclear regulators are requiring plants to upgrade equipment and emergency plans that take into account the meltdown of the Fukushima plant in 2011.

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.
Entergy Corporation

This story was corrected to reflect how many security officers talked to the NRC.

Nuclear regulators have been interviewing certain Palisades employees as part of ongoing oversight to see if safety culture has improved at the nuclear plant near South Haven. That's after a third-party report found “examples of a lack of accountability at all levels at the Plant were evident.”

Palisades reactor from ouside
Mark Savage / Entergy Nuclear Operations

The Palisades power plant is proposing a new design that officials hope will help end a recurring problem.

The heat generated by its nuclear reactor is restrained in part by 45 control rods. The rod mechanisms at Palisades have an uncommon design (one of only two plants in the country) and have had a lot more problems than at other plants.

The Palisades Nuclear Plant sits on the shores of Lake Michigan in southwest Michigan.

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Operators of southwestern Michigan's Palisades Nuclear Power Plant say it's now offline for refueling and maintenance.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. says operators took the plant out of service at 11 a.m. EST Sunday. It's located on the shore of lake Michigan in Van Buren County's Covert Township, about 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.

Plant spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says workers will replace 64 fuel assemblies in the reactor as well doing maintenance, tests and inspections.

Keith Oppenheim

Public health should be about facts, but let’s face it -- it’s often also about perception and emotion.

The Palisades plant is located not too far from where I live in West Michigan -– but before I go there, allow me a quick digression.

I recently gave up diet soda.

I’m trying to be healthy and have been convinced by what I’ve read and been told that aspartame, the sweetener in diet pop, is really not a good thing to consume.

Is the evidence conclusive?

I don’t think so, but I certainly feel a whole lot better about myself now that I’ve kicked my addiction.

The emotional factors may not be so different with the Palisades nuclear power plant.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Medicaid bill expected next week

The Medicaid expansion could reach a vote in the Michigan State Senate in late August.  A first draft of the bill may be ready by next week.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that Governor Rick Snyder “has said waiting until late August could jeopardize the state’s ability to get federal approval.”

Palisades Nuclear Plant at risk of closing

A new study puts the Palisades Nuclear Plant on a list of 12 plants at risk of closing before their licenses expire.  The study was produced by Mark Cooper at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School.  The list weighs factors such as repairs and safety improvement, and also includes the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo.  Michigan Radio’s Lindsay Smith reports “Cooper says nuclear plants are simply more expensive to run safely as they age. Plus the falling price of renewable energy and natural gas make nuclear power less competitive.”

Michigan’s unemployment rate jumps

Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate increased to 8.7%.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports, “There are actually about 9 thousand more people working in Michigan.  But there are also more people who told the government’s monthly employment survey that they are looking for work.”

Ohio Sea Grant / Creative Commons

A new study deems the Palisades Nuclear Plant one of a dozen in the country most at risk of closing before its operating license expires in 2031.

“I’m not making predictions here and I really do want to stress that,” the study’s author Mark Cooper told reporters on a press conference call Wednesday afternoon.

The SIRWT tank on top of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant
Mark Savage / Entergy

Federal nuclear regulators say it’ll be several weeks before they can determine if Entergy, the company that owns the Palisades Nuclear Plant, violated any regulations during an incident in May when 80 gallons of slightly radioactive water leaked into Lake Michigan.

Related: Read this for a brief summary of all the problems at Palisades

The leak happened in May. Regulators say there was no threat to public safety, and the leak is now fixed.

When workers fixed the leaky tank they discovered the sand bed that was supposed to be supporting the tank was never installed. Palisades was built in 1968.

“If the causes (of there being no sand bed) were so long ago and it’s not indicative of recent performance then it’s assessed a little bit differently,” Jack Giessner said during a public forum held online Tuesday afternoon. Giessner is branch chief at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“It still may have some follow up needed but in general, it’s not like we’re going to try to interview people from 1968,” Giessner said.

Mark Savage / Entergy

Federal regulators will host a public meeting this week to recap the latest shutdown of the Palisades Nuclear Plant. The plant restarted about a month ago after fixing a water leak.

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