On 20 May 2022, US utility Entergy permanently closed its Palisades nuclear reactor, almost nine years before its operating license runs out. The 50-year-old Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) located in Southwest Michigan was connected to the grid on 31 December 1971. In 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted a 20-year lifetime extension to 60 years and the unit had a license to operate until 24 March 2031.
The 805-MW Combustian Engineering unit was closed 10 days earlier than planned since 2017, following the detection of an issue with a control-rod drive mechanism. The closure decision was based on Entergy’s strategy to exit the merchant power generation business and coincides with end of a 15-year power purchase agreement with local utility Consumers Energy.
The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Michigan — Photo Entergy
This leaves the United States with 92 operating reactors, still the largest fleet in the world, followed by France with 56 and China with 55 units.
Entergy’s license for Palisades will be transfered to Holtec International for “purposes of the safe and timely decommissioning”.
Entergy provided an interesting overview of the professional future of its Palisades employees:
“Any employee willing to relocate to another Entergy facility would be provided a job for which they were qualified. Approximately 130 employees have accepted a job offer from Entergy within the southern utility service territory.
As part of the company’s sale agreement with Holtec International, the new owner of the plant post-shutdown will hire approximately 260 current Palisades employees for the first phase of decommissioning. Holtec agreed to honor existing collective bargaining agreement contracts with union employees.
Approximately 180 employees at Palisades will separate from the company; more than half of those employees are retirement eligible.”