Michigan is among the handful of U.S. states looking toward nuclear power to achieve clean energy goals.

While nuclear power could expand its role in the generation mix, unresolved obstacles remain, according to a study presented to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers had directed an outside consulting group, ENERCON Services East, to study the feasibility of nuclear power in Michigan. The study considered the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy and included evaluations, conclusions and recommendations on design characteristics, environmental impact, engineering and more.

Disadvantages cited in the study included high upfront capital costs, lengthy project development timelines, community concerns and no national resolution to the issue of permanent disposal of spent nuclear waste.

Despite tax credit benefits, the “initial cost of [First-of-a-kind] nuclear deployments is expected to be substantial for the first movers, with followers positioned to reap the benefits from lessons learned and increased supply chain efficiencies leading to lower costs for follow-on deployments,” study authors said.

To remove this roadblock for first movers, Michigan could consider pooling financial support with other states interested in adding nuclear power, the authors said.

Some of those costs of building new nuclear projects could be recouped through long-term economic impacts in local economies and increased tax payments, the authors also said.

The ENERCON report also noted the advantages of building more nuclear, including its emission-free nature and the relatively small amount of land needed for projects

Authors said a hypothetical nuclear plant in Consumers Energy territory could reduce annual emissions by 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, 6.2 tons of sulfur dioxide and 197 tons of nitric oxide.

Continuing existing nuclear power generation will be necessary to meet carbon-free energy goals, the report noted.

You can read ENERCON’s full report here.

Michigan is also the location of Palisades Nuclear plant, which was retired in 2022. State lawmakers have supported re-opening the shuttered 800 MW facility, but the undertaking requires regulatory approval and federal funding.

Owner Holtec International has applied for the latter, and recent reports suggest the company will receive the funding, in the form of a $1.5 billion loan.

Michigan also included $150 million to restart the plant in its latest budget passed in June 2023.

In January Holtec told us it hoped to bring Palisades back up to full operation toward the end of 2025.

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