Palisades nuclear plant will remain open until 2022, says parent company
COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Palisades Nuclear Plant in Van Buren County will remain open until 2022. The plant’s parent company Entergy Corporation was considering ending its Power Purchase Agreement with Consumers Energy in 2018, but the Michigan Public Service Commission could not give Consumers the full buyout amount. Employees at Palisades said shouts of joy could be heard when company officials told them the announcement Thursday morning.
“People were high-fiving each other and they were just grateful, and thankful,” said Entergy employee Bobby Walker. He said people around him said they could actually afford to keep their home now.
Walker has worked for Entergy at Palisades for 32 years. He’s so thankful he doesn’t have to search for a new job in 2018. “Keeping my job helps me to keep money to help us to shop at businesses, to restaurants,” he said.
Palisades will continue to provide wholesale power to Consumers Energy until the Power Purchase agreement expires in 2022. Entergy Senior Communications Specialist Val Gent said, “Entergy is determined that it was more financially beneficial to continue operating the plant until 2022 as opposed to close it next year.”
Walker says the decision to stick around will not only help employees, but continued employment allows employees like Walker to serve and volunteer in the Covert community.
“They have supported me in a Blueberry Festival basketball tournament for over 40 years,” he said. “So we have given back in many ways. We continue to be proud of Palisades and the difference that they made in this community.”
Over at Covert Public Schools on Thursday, Superintendent Bobbi Morehead said the atmosphere was that of pure joy. She said, “I was literally dancing and singing and yelling. I was just so happy.”
Taxes from Palisades make up half of the district’s budget. The money is critical. But beyond revenue and finances, employees at the plant volunteer and collect important items for students. Morehead said, “They come to our school. They help us with career days. They give backpacks and supplies to our students.”
Every single year Entergy gives approximately $350,000 in charitable contributions to the Southwest Michigan community.
But the end for Palisades is inevitable. The plant will close sometime in 2022. Covert Township Supervisor Dennis Palgen is already in talks with officials in Van Buren County to create a strategic plan to continue operating. The Covert Public School district is following suit.
“We will continue to be conservative, and we will continue to strategically plan about what could it possibly look like in the future without Palisades,” Morehead said.
For employees like Walker, they also have more time to prepare for the day Palisades ceases operations. “You got a little bit longer to plan, and so we have that to look forward to,” Walker said.
Congressman Fred Upton released a statement today saying he’s delighted to hear the news and it’s a welcome announcement for workers and the community.