Palisades closing could hurt area's economy, evaluation shows

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As an effort to reopen Van Buren County’s nuclear power plant simmers in Washington D.C., Covert Township and its neighboring communities are planning as if it’ll stay shut down for good. 

Researchers with the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute presented a new evaluation Monday on how the closure of Palisades Power Plant will hurt the area’s economy, and ways those negative impacts can be rebuilt.

“This closure will lead to a loss in talent, a highly technical skill sets from employees leaving along with their families leaving. The area already has trouble attracting new employees due to the lack of broadband internet access, healthcare, and other services,” the institute’s Senior Project Manager Carmen Wells Quigg said.

Researchers expect employment services, restaurants, retail, and healthcare to be the industries in Van Buren County most affected by the Palisades’ closure. 

The nuclear reactor was removed at Palisades for the final time in May 2022.

Holtec International took control of the aging facility shortly after and applied for new federal funding to reopen the plant and keep it open through 2031. 

That first application was rejected by the U.S. Department of Energy, but Holtec has submitted a second. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been pushing for Palisades to reopen, despite safety and environmental concerns neighbors have about the 52-year-old facility.

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