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  • Palisades Nuclear Plant Receives Loan // RTOs Against NERC’s Winter Reliability Standards

Palisades Nuclear Plant Receives Loan // RTOs Against NERC’s Winter Reliability Standards

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: the DOE has provided the loan necessary to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan alive, the RTO Council has asked FERC to reject NERC’s cold weather reliability standards, and more.

Palisades Nuclear Plant Receives Loan

Holtec has secured the DOE loan it needed to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant.

“Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) announced a conditional commitment of up to $1.52 billion for a loan guarantee to Holtec Palisades, LLC (Holtec Palisades) to finance the restoration and resumption of service of an 800-MW electric nuclear generating station in Covert Township, Michigan,” the DOE said in the press release. “The project aims to bring back online the Palisades Nuclear Plant, which ceased operations in May 2022, and upgrade it to produce baseload clean power until at least 2051, subject to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing approvals.”

If all goes well, then this will prove the first recommissioning of a nuclear power plant in American history. Holtec acquired Palisades from Entergy in 2022. Last year, the firm announced plans to add two of its advanced reactors to Palisades.

The DOE’s move to rescue Palisades brings welcome news to Michigan and to the Midcontinent System Operator, one of America’s many beleaguered power markets losing baseload capacity faster than it can replace it. For more on MISO’s situation, check out our recent Deep Dive on it for premium subscribers.

RTOs Against NERC’s Winter Reliability Standards

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. has proposed cold weather reliability standards—a group of North American RTO/ISOs (aka power markets), has filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging it to reject NERC’s standards.

“Settling for the standard that NERC has filed in this proceeding, with its glaring exceptions and vague requirements, will only result in reliability issues that the Commission will need to address later and at a greater cost to generator owners and the public,” the RTOs said.

NERC has been trying to formulate cold weather reliability standards since the Uri blackouts in Texas in 2021.

One of the RTO’s major complaints about NERC’s proposal is the “Generator Cold Weather Constraint” element that would allow power plant owners to exempt themselves from freeze protection measures if such measures fall beyond a “reasonable cost consistent with good business practices, reliability, or safety.”

“Enforcing the standard when this exception is invoked effectively injects NERC and the Regional Entities into the process of judging the reasonableness of costs, cost estimates, and even the particular Generator Owner’s specific financial situation,” the the RTOs said. While costs are important, they argued, they fall under FERC’s aegis, not NERC’s.

“Constraint declarations based on claims of unreasonable costs will prove to be difficult or impossible to audit effectively and consistently,” they added.

The council of RTOs that submitted the complaint includes Alberta Electric System Operator, the California Independent System Operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the Independent Electricity System Operator of Ontario, ISO New England, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the New York Independent System Operator, the PJM Interconnection, and the Southwest Power Pool.

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