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Nuclear Power’s Role in Michigan’s Energy Mix

Recently, we discussed the importance of fuel diversity to Michigan’s energy future, especially in light of our looming capacity shortfall. One important aspect of the fuel diversity discussion is how nuclear energy fits into Michigan’s energy resource mix.

Nuclear power has and will continue to play an important role in Michigan’s energy mix. This is especially true now, given that several of Michigan’s coal-fired power plants will be forced to close soon due to federal emissions regulations.  New regulations from the EPA complicate matters further by making it harder to replace the capacity Michigan will lose when these plants close.   

Fortunately, there are already signs that nuclear power may be making a comeback in the “Comeback State.”

NRC Approves Fermi 3

Just recently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—the government agency that oversees nuclear power development across the U.S.—approved construction of the Fermi 3 power plant in Monroe.  This comes as welcome news after six years of awaiting final approvals for the plan to help “ensure Michigan’s energy future.”

Run by local energy provider DTE Energy, the site is home to one of Michigan’s nuclear power plants, Fermi 2—named after renowned nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi. Currently, Fermi 2 produces enough power to serve one million homes in Southeast Michigan, representing “30 percent of Michigan’s total nuclear generating capacity.”  If built, Fermi 3 would expand on this capacity, helping Michigan address its future power needs head-on.

While there are no immediate plans to begin construction, the Fermi 3 license provides “a good option for the long future…to add more alternatives to coal power.”

Securing our Energy Future

In his energy address back in March, Governor Snyder recognized the need to incorporate greater use of nuclear, natural gas, and renewable energy sources into Michigan’s energy mix. 

In the face of coal-fired plant closures, “increasing reliance on nuclear, ramping up natural gas and renewables and minimizing energy waste” will help Michigan maintain the capacity it needs to meet our growing energy demands.  In fact, the Governor included nuclear with renewables when he called for clean energy to “make up 30 percent of the state’s power generation.”

AMP strongly supports maintaining a diverse fuel resource mix to meet Michigan’s current and future energy needs, improve sustainability, and ensure long-term reliability and affordability. Maintaining nuclear energy as part of that mix can help Michigan successfully balance the multiple priorities our state must juggle when it comes to our energy supply.

What do you think about nuclear power? Do you think Michigan should take an “all of the above” approach to energy? Let us know at contactus@allianceformichiganpower.com!