Community invited to discuss plan to close Palisades

Representatives from the Michigan Public Service Commission addressed about 23 citizens in attendance at two separate public meetings held Monday  at the Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence. Individuals were given the opportunity to present their concerns and questions to the state PSC Chairman Sally A. Talberg, right, and commissioners Norman J. Saari, center, and Rachael A. Eubanks.
	  Courier-Leader photo/Paul Garrod

    LAWRENCE - Monday’s public meeting of the Michigan Public Service Commission to gather community input on the filing made by Consumers Energy related to the PPA termination for Palisades nuclear plant in Covert Township brought out 23 individuals to make comments  during the afternoon and evening  sessions.
    The MPSC is deciding whether to allow Consumers Energy and Entergy to terminate their power purchase agreement early.
    Nick Culp, manager, government affairs and spokesman for Entergy’s Palisades nuclear power plant, addressed the state PSC Chairman Sally A. Talberg and members,Norman J. Saari and Rachael A. Eubanks. In his statement, shared with The Courier-Leader, Culp said,  “Entergy has owned and operated the Palisades Power Plant in Covert Township since 2007. For the past decade, we have enjoyed positive and strong partnership with the community here in Southwest Michigan.
    “Entergy recognizes the consequences of a Palisades shutdown for our approximately 600 employees who have run the plant safely and reliably, as well as for the surrounding community. We will continue to work closely with both to provide support during the transition.
    “Palisades has an immensely talented, dedicated, and loyal workforce,” said Culp.  “They are committed to the safety of the plant and the well-being of their fellow workers, the general public, and our environment, above all else. Through their hard work, Palisades remains in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s highest safety category and is recognized as a top performer in the industry. Those workers are currently in the midst of our scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, during the course of which Entergy will invest tens of millions of dollars into the site for the next operational cycle.
    “We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was certainly not the outcome employees or the community had hoped for, but we have concluded that a shutdown in 2018 is prudent when comparing the transaction to the business risks of continued operation.
    “Entergy is committed to treating all 600 of its employees fairly throughout this process and will assist those who want to relocate within Entergy or leave the company. Consumers Energy has announced that as part of its ongoing talent recruitment efforts, it will work closely with Entergy and consider potential placement of up to 180 appropriately skilled employees from Palisades into the utility’s workforce over time...we expect many of our workers will find new opportunities after shutdown, as well as at DTE’s Fermi plant and elsewhere within the industry. Additionally, speaking with local economic development organizations like Southwest Michigan First and Kinexus, we know that there is a local demand for the highly skilled and well-qualified worker that you will find at Palisades.
    “To support the community during the transition, Entergy and the CMS will provide a total of $10 million in community funding over several years for the Southwest Michigan region. Of that $10 million, Entergy will provide $8 million. In coordination with CMS, we have been in communication with area stakeholders and the Council of Michigan Foundations as it relates to the distribution of these funds....
    “Entergy has worked hard to be a good neighbor and in turn Southwest Michigan has been good to us. That makes the current situation all the more difficult for our company as we recognize the significant impact the purchase power agreement termination and closure of Palisades will have.” Culp said, “We have engaged tirelessly with regional stakeholders through roundtables, public meetings, and regular communications with the elected leadership of this region. Law enforcement and emergency responders; public school officials; and a wide range of other community leaders have informed our process throughout....
    “The Palisades purchase power agreement termination and announced closure is a business decision, but not one that we make lightly. That is why throughout this transition, we are committed to both our workers and this region to remain a good partner. We believe that in doing so, we can help make a difficult announcement as good as it can possibly be.   In closing, it has been an honor to be part of this community.”

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