Mich. (AP) - An energy company announced plans Thursday to permanently close
the Palisades nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan in 2018, which
could mean hundreds of job cuts for a major employer in the region if
regulators approve the closure.
Entergy Corp. and Michigan-based utility, Consumers Energy, said they’ve
agreed to end a power purchase agreement for the plant that year. They said
it will save Consumers’ customers as much as $172 million from 2018 to 2022
and affect about 600 employees.
The companies said
less expensive alternatives now exist to provide power in the region as
Consumers adds more renewable energy and natural gas-fired generation.
If ending the
purchase agreement is approved by regulators, Entergy said it plans to close
the plant Oct. 1, 2018. An earlier agreement committed Consumers to purchase
nearly all of the power that Palisades generates through April 2022.
“We determined that
a shutdown in 2018 is prudent when comparing the transaction to the business
risks of continued operation,” Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and CEO, said
in a statement.
Entergy said it
could offer new positions to up to 180 of the affected employees at the
Gov. Rick Snyder
said he plans to direct the Michigan Agency for Energy, the Michigan
Department of Treasury, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and others to
help prepare the area for the possible shutdown.
“We need to make
sure we use the next two years to wisely plan the use of state and local
resources to adapt to whatever decision is made,” he said in a statement.
current plan, Palisades would be refueled as scheduled in the spring and
operate through the end of the fuel cycle. As part of the agreement,
Consumers Energy also will pay Entergy $172 million to end the power
purchase agreement and help Entergy transition to decommissioning the plant.
Entergy and the
Consumers Energy Foundation plan to provide a total of $10 million over
several years in economic development funding for southwestern Michigan as
part of an effort to ease the economic effects of the closure.
The plant is in Van
Buren County’s Covert Township, along Lake Michigan. It started generating
electricity in 1971 and can produce enough power for more than 800,000
homes. Consumers Energy is part of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp.