COVERT — The owner of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Southwest Michigan disclosed last week that 184 jobs will be eliminated soon after the plant permanently closes on May 31.
Entergy Corp. officials disclosed the job losses in a notice required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The 184 positions will be eliminated “on or around” June 24, according to Entergy.
According to a presentation last week hosted by the Palisades Community Advisory Panel, the Covert-based power plant along Lake Michigan in Van Buren County employs 594 people. Of those, 260 will transition to become employees of Holtec International, which will take ownership of the plant to oversee the nearly 20-year decommissioning process.
A majority — roughly 220 workers — of the remaining 334 employees have either accepted a position within Entergy and will relocate or are eligible for retirement.
“For those who will not stay on for decommissioning, relocate within Entergy, or retire, Entergy continues to provide resources including cross-training, career workshops, etc. We are working with Kinexus/Michigan Works and local employers in preparation for an employee job fair that will occur later this month,” Entergy Spokesperson Nicholas Culp said in a statement to MiBiz.
Of the 184 positions being eliminated, 127 are non-unionized workers, including various supervisors, managers, consultants, instructors and engineers. The remaining 57 employees are either members of Utility Workers Union of America or the United Government Security Officers of America.
Utility officials in September 2017 announced that the 811-megawatt power plant would shut down this spring to align with the end of Entergy’s 15-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy.
Over the past year, state officials have directed funding to local economic development and planning agencies to brace for the economic effects of the plant’s closure. Officials previously told MiBiz that they want to take a “holistic approach” to economic development that accounts for multiplier effects in the community.
Last week, representatives with the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute reported that $51 million in lost compensation is expected as a result of this year’s job losses.
“Entergy recognizes the impact the closure of Palisades will have on the community,” Culp said. “The company remains in regular, active communication with federal, state and local officials and key community stakeholders regarding the transition to decommissioning.”
Meanwhile, critics of the plant closure have sought some form of state intervention to keep Palisades open, either for retaining jobs at the plant or for environmental reasons to keep carbon-free power generation online.
Entergy has said that the plant is no longer economical to maintain “due to adverse market conditions, including low wholesale energy prices,” Culp said.