LAWRENCE — State utility regulators have set two meetings May 8 so that Southwest Michigan residents can weigh in on the proposed closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant.
The meetings will be at the Van Buren Conference Center, 490 S. Paw Paw St., in Lawrence, said Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission. The first meeting is 3-5 p.m., while the second is 6-8 p.m.
At the meetings, MPSC staff will discuss the timeline and administrative process the agency will follow in dealing with Consumers Energy Company’s plan for early termination of its power purchase agreement with Entergy Corp., owner of the Palisades Plant.
All three MPSC commissioners will participate, and an administrative law judge will preside at the public meeting. Subsequently, a transcript of the public meeting will be filed.
Palnau said it is somewhat unusual for the MPSC to convene a public meeting outside of Lansing, but commissioners want to be sure to hear from Southwest Michigan residents.
“The commission wants public input as the case is still pending,” Palnau said.
The “case” involves Consumers Energy’s request in 2016 to prematurely terminate its agreement to buy electricity from Palisades.
If the MPSC approves the request, Palisades’ owner Entergy Corp. will close the aging facility in Covert Township in October 2018. The original pact between Entergy and Consumers wasn’t supposed to end until 2022, thus MPSC’s approval will be needed.
Palisades, which employs 600 workers, pays about $10.5 million annually in taxes, making it the largest taxpayer in Van Buren County.
The company and its employees have taken active roles in helping communities in Van Buren County. In 2013, the company reported that Palisades and its workers provided some $325,000 in annual charitable contributions to the community.
Van Buren County Board of Commissioners and the Michigan House of Representatives passed resolutions opposing the early termination of Consumers pact with Entergy.
In the meantime, the MPSC has held several hearings regarding the pact but has not yet rendered a decision.
“I look forward to this public meeting and hearing from residents near the Palisades plant,” MPSC Chairwoman Sally Talberg stated in a previous news release. “This meeting will be an essential part of our process to evaluate the issues.”