Hoosier Energy celebrates 75th anniversary

Hoosier Energy 75th Anniversary
Donna Walker of Hoosier Energy, Eric Baker of Wolverine Power Cooperative, and Kelly Trice of Holtec International discuss the Palisades Nuclear Generating Plant restart during Hoosier’s Annual Meeting in French Lick.

Hoosier Energy celebrated its 75th anniversary during the 2024 Annual Meeting in French Lick, but the company chose to do so by looking ahead instead of looking back.

During the day’s final session, called Palisades Nuclear Collaboration — Cooperative History in the Making, Hoosier Energy President and CEO Donna Walker sat down with Wolverine Power Cooperative’s Eric Baker and Holtec International’s Kelly Trice to discuss the alliance.

It was an opportunity to draw back the curtain on a partnership and agreement that stands to shape the energy industry’s future.

The Palisades Nuclear Generation Station in Covert Township, Michigan, operated for nearly 50 years before being shut down in May 2022. In June 2022, it was sold to Holtec, which specializes in the design and manufacture of parts for nuclear reactors.

Restarting the plant was not on the table initially, but interest in doing so had utilities across the country negotiating with Holtec. However, it wasn’t until Baker and Wolverine Power Cooperative came to the table that the process really gained traction.

In September 2023, Holtec and Wolverine announced they had reached a power purchase agreement to restart the plant. Wolverine is committed to purchasing at least half of the power generated, while Hoosier Energy will purchase the remaining balance.

Trice gave the cooperatives all the credit.

“We’ve never taken a loan. This will be the first loan we’ve ever had,” he said. “This is the only time in the world [restarting a nuclear plant] has happened. It would not have happened had the co-ops not come to the table because I’d been negotiating with the big utilities for months.”

The federal loan was approved in late March, putting the first nuclear energy plant restart in the world’s history on center stage. Trice also called it a full-circle moment.

“It’s ironic that co-ops helped start nuclear in this country,” he said. “Now the co-ops are saving nuclear in this country.”

With Wolverine taking the lead in their home state, Hoosier Energy has followed the principle of cooperation among cooperatives as the process of bringing the Palisades plant back online unfolds in the coming years. It will be a long-term piece of Hoosier’s resource portfolio.

“It’s a baseload foundation to build the future on,” Walker said. “People ask me, ‘What if there’s a new technology down the road that is less expensive or something better?’ I say, ‘I hope that happens.’”

“We have room in our future for that new technology and to put it on top of this base we have with Palisades. I’m super excited to be where we’re at now.”