Holtec Government Affairs and Communications Senior Manager Pat O’Brien talks about the future of Palisades Power Plant during a reactor shutdown demonstration held for media in May of 2022 in the control room simulator at Palisades Power Plant in Covert.

Even as efforts persist to repower the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert Township, regional planning groups are proceeding with strategies to absorb the negative economic impact that the plant’s closure in 2022 will have on the region in the future.

The latest initiative involves this week’s public release of the latest draft of the assessment portion of the Palisades Economic Recovery Plan.

The University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute will discuss the assessment portion of the plan and seek public input during a Zoom meeting at 11 a.m., Monday, Jan. 23.

Area residents interested in attending the meeting may find a link to join the virtual meeting on Van Buren County’s website at: www.vanburen countymi.gov/739/ Economic-Recovery-Strategy.

“The assessment represents another step in our effort to listen to leaders and citizens and dive deep into data to build a roadmap for economic recovery,” said John Egelhaaf, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Regional Planning Commission. “We hope people will give it a look and tell us what they think.”

Development of the assessment portion of the Economic Recovery Strategy has been rooted in a research process led by the Economic Growth Institute and supported by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Kinexus Group, Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass and Van Buren, and Market Van Buren.

“Since January 2022, UM Economic Growth Institute has engaged with the public several times seeking data and input to inform the Draft Assessment Section of the Palisades Economic Recovery Strategy.”

Several of those meetings were held at Lake Michigan College in South Haven in 2022.

“This meeting will give community members a final chance to share their local expertise and inform the recovery plan,” said Carmen Wells Quigg, senior project manager at the Economic Growth Institute.

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant closed in May 2022. Prior to closure, the plant employed about 600 people and contributed roughly $10 million in tax revenue to local taxing authorities.

Data provided by Entergy, which owned the Palisades plant before selling it to Holtec International for decommissioning in December 2021, paints a more grim picture. In 2022, 334 employees left the plant after it powered offline. By 2025, an additional 260 employees who are now employed by Holtec, are expected to leave. The total economic impact of those lost jobs from the Palisades plant equates to approximately $70 million in total wages, excluding benefits. The economic loss also includes wages lost from refueling contractors who were hired during regularly scheduled outages for maintenance upgrades and refueling at the plant.

While there are calls from groups to reopen Palisades, community leaders believe their ongoing efforts to prepare for the long-term closure of the plant remain essential.

“Although there are efforts to re-power Palisades, there is no guarantee that the plant will re-open,” said Zach Morris, executive director of Market Van Buren. “To ensure we minimize negative economic impacts, we must continue with our closure mitigation efforts, which will be informed by this report.”

In addition to the draft of the assessment portion of the Palisades Economic Recovery Plan, the presentation will cover anticipated economic impacts of the Palisades Plant closure and potential opportunities for mitigation. Input solicited at the Jan. 23 meeting will inform the final Palisades Economic Recovery Plan, which will outline strategies to mitigate the economic impact of the closure.