E&E News: Biden admin poised to aid [Palisades] nuclear plant with massive loan

Biden admin poised to aid nuclear plant with massive loan

By Brian Dabbs
01/31/2024 01:29 PM EST

The owner of a shuttered nuclear plant in Michigan is signaling a massive loan could come soon from the Department of
Energy, a move that would mark the latest attempt by the Biden administration to bolster the struggling nuclear sector in the

Holtec International — the owner of the Palisades nuclear plant southwest of Grand Rapids — is “hopeful” it will “hear a
favorable decision in the near future” on the DOE loan, a spokesperson for the company, Nick Culp, told E&E News on

“We are very optimistic about the federal loan process and confident in the strength of our application,” Culp said. “The
unified effort to bring Palisades back online will return 800 megawatts of safe, reliable and carbon-free baseload generation
back to our electric grid — ensuring Michigan and the country meet climate goals while boosting around-the-clock reliability
for families and businesses.”

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Holtec is poised to get a $1.5 billion loan to reopen the shuttered plant on the shores of
Lake Michigan from the DOE Loan Programs Office (LPO), an arm of the department with hundreds of billions of dollars in
authority. A spokesperson for the LPO declined to comment.

The potential loan comes in the wake of a for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California.$1.1 billion DOE bailout
The bailout program, authorized in the bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021, is designed to provide grants to unprofitable
nuclear plants. A recent round of bailout offerings . Many energy experts expected Holtec to apply for theyielded no takers

Speaking to E&E News last week, CEO Kris Singh said the Palisades plant is a boon to U.S. clean energy.

“Right now, clean energy is in short supply. Companies want to switch. The consumers want to switch,” he said in an
interview. “The state government, local community, the Department of Energy, and finally the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission],
which has the last word, in our meetings have not shown any reluctance to restart the plant, if we are able to show to them that all
the safety metrics are preserved.”

Nuclear critics say the plant is a threat to the local community.

"The problem with a DOE loan guarantee, at least for taxpayers, is that it is interest-free, and risk-free. Holtec need not pay it
back, leaving taxpayers holding the bag,” Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, said in an email.

“But the extreme risks to health, safety, security, and the environment of restarting this severely age-degraded zombie reactor
could prove much more costly to those living downwind, downstream, up the food chain, and down the generations."

The LPO has more than $400 billion in lending authority after a. Among its morebig injection in the Inflation Reduction Act
controversial loans, the office is lending $3 billion to Sunnova Energy for a . Nationwide virtual power plant project
month, DOE also extended a loan to LongPath Technologies for that company's efforts to monitor methane emissions at
production sites in the U.S. West

Republicans on Capitol Hill have repeatedly targeted the LPO. Last week, House Republicans LPO threatened to subpoena
Director Jigar Shah.

Nuclear energy, which does not directly produce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, currently provides about a tenth
of global electricity. The fuel provided on the grid in 2022.18 percent of U.S. electricity

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is currently to boost next-generation nuclear production. collaborating to advance legislation
On Tuesday, Holtec as part of a criminal investigation into state tax credits the agreed to pay New Jersey $5 million
sought in 2018.

Reporter Zachary Bright contributed.