News about Palisades – from “rocky history” to shutdown announcement, reversal, and beyond
Editor’s note: News about Palisades Nuclear Generating Station took so much space on our News Page that we decided to put it somewhere else. Our Palisades Chronology page 7 starts in mid-August, 2017, explains MPSC’s ruling on Consumers’ PPA buyout plan, and ends with a September 26 news release.
- Page 1 begins with the July, 2016, controversy about falsified security reports, and continues through Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group’s January 12, 2017, adoption of its resolution supporting the Palisades shutdown.
- Page 2 goes from mid-January, 2017, up to MPSC’s mid-February announcement that it would hold its first public hearing in the case on March 9.
- Page 3 carries our Palisades Chronology to the end of March and the disclosure that Palisades may not be able to handle a tornado.
- Page 4 runs from the beginning of April through June 9 – meeting reports, case updates.
- Page 5 ends with the July 13 program that Bette Pierman organized with Chris Williams, who shared what he’s learned watching the decommissioning at Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant.
- Page 6 recaps a Palisades “Event Report” and the July 26 Open House, with more to come.
- Page 7 goes from the August 17 report that Palisades fixed its tornado problem to a September 26 news release about MPSC’s ruling on Consumers’ PPA buyout plan.
- Page 8 picks up on September 28 with the announcement that Palisades won’t close in October 2018 as previously announced.
On December 9, 2016, the day after the Palisades shutdown news release, The Herald Palladium published a comprehensive timeline covering “Palisades’ rocky history.” The timeline begins a few months before the January 28, 1966, headline that hailed a new “$100 million electrical plant.” The March, 1973, timeline entry reports that “after eight years and $170 million,” Palisades got the okay to operate at full power. The Palladium’s Palisades chronology ends with the August, 2016, announcement that Anthony Vitale, who’d been in charge at Palisades for five years, was being replaced. We started our palisades chronology in mid-July, 2016 – a month before Entergy named a new boss at Palisades.
Palisades Chronology Page 7
Our Palisades Chronology Page 7 starts with a recap of a Palisades “Event Report” that came two months after the fact. Then we have a report from Craig Schultz on the July 26 Palisades Open House. More to come. Stay tuned.
Following up on a report from March 30 that Palisades is not ready for a tornado (bottom of Page 3 of our Palisades Chronology), MLive says Entergy has assured them that the problem is fixed. Entergy’s Val Gent said, “The identified vulnerabilities, evaluated by the NRC to be of very low risk, are being addressed in accordance with NRC Enforcement Guidance.”
Entergy has filed an application to ship low-level radioactive waste to Texas.
In a document dated August 24 and posted to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s online docket for Case U-18250 on August 29, Administrative Law Judge Sharon L. Feldman turned the case over to MPSC’s three Commissioners. The Commission has promised a ruling by September 28.
Briefly, the case considers two questions:
- Should Consumers Energy be allowed to buy out the last four years of its 15-year power purchase agreement with Palisades?
- Can Consumers get along without the electricity that Palisades produces?
If MPSC okays the plan, the PPA buyout would take effect in October, 2018. Since the plan would leave Palisades without a customer for its electricity, Entergy would close the plant. The PPA buyout, negotiated in private between Entergy and Consumers, would cost Consumers $172 million. The cost of financing the buyout with a securitization bond would be $184 million, paid for by Consumers’ electric customers over the four cancelled years of the PPA. Consumers contends that purchasing lower-priced electricity from other sources would save ratepayers far more than the surcharge on their electric bills.
Consumers Energy has a plan that “could help offset the loss of generation that it buys from the Covert-based Palisades nuclear plant, which owner Entergy wants to close next year.” MiBiz reports that Consumers is targeting businesses to reduce their electric use during peak demand times.
In a 92-page ruling, the Michigan Public Service Commission said, yes, Consumers can buy out its Palisades power purchase agreement, but not for $172 million. The Commission will allow a PPA buyout payment of only $136 million. Also, rather than paying the total cost ($142 million, including fees) over four years, it should be spread over six years. As for the other issue in the case, MPSC agrees that Consumers can replace Palisades electricity from other sources.
MPSC’s news release says that Consumers and Entergy agree that “the remaining cost of the PPA is higher than the projected cost of buying energy and capacity on the market, and that even with a buyout, Consumers’ customers will save money in the long term.” Commission Chair Sally Talberg said, “Consumers Energy and Entergy will need to make a decision whether to accept these conditions and proceed with their plan to terminate the power purchase agreement.”
As a practical matter, Consumers will no doubt be okay with paying Entergy $36 million less than its asking price. The question is whether Entergy will go along.
MPSC also published this “Issue Brief” that explains the finer points of the case, how the Commission arrived at its ruling, and what the ruling means.
- MLive – “State commission’s ruling could throw wrench in Palisades closure plan”
- Herald-Palladium – “Palisades contract may be terminated”
- CW7 – “Michigan approves Consumers Energy plan to opt out of Palisades energy deal”
- WWMT TV – “Michigan approves Consumers Energy plan to opt out of Palisades energy deal”
- Entergy’s reaction
Now, it is up to Entergy to decide whether they should accept the reduced buyout payment or drop the whole idea and keep trying to figure out how to make a profit on their increasingly expensive electricity. Entergy has announced several plant sales and closings in the past few years, making it clear that they want out of the wholesale nuclear power business. Accepting $36 million less than they requested seems better than accepting no payment at all and trying to make a go of it when they cannot be competitive.
End of Palisades Chronology, Page 7
Quicklinks to our Palisades Chronology pages
- Page 1 starts with the Palisades timeline – day one to December 8, 2016 – published in The Herald Palladium and takes us to mid-January and SWMG’s adoption of its Palisades Shutdown Resolution.
- Page 2 provides an expert’s translation of Consumers Energy’s 99-page response to MPSC’s list of questions and info on other financial concerns.
- Page 3 looks at local issues and comments from mid-February and ends with the March 30 disclosure that Palisades was not designed to withstand a tornado.
- Page 4 reports on several public meetings held from April to early June, 2017, and has several updates in MPSC’s case, including info on how to send comments to MPSC.
- Page 5 goes from mid-June to the presentation Bette Pierman organized, with Chris Williams from Vermont warning us about what to watch for when Palisades goes into its decommissioning phase.
- Page 6 has an “Event Report” from Entergy two months after the fact, a very-next-day report from Kraig Schultz on the July 26 Palisades Open House, and more to come.
- Page 7 starts with the August 17 report that Palisades fixed its tornado problem, explains MPSC’s ruling on Consumers’ plan to pay Entergy to cancel the final four years of their power purchase agreement, and ends with a September 26 news release about the ruling.
- Page 8 picks up on September 28 with the announcement that Palisades won’t close in October 2018 as previously announced. More to follow.