(Adds details and background about U.S. nuclear industry)
By Timothy Gardner
May 20 (Reuters) - Entergy Corp said on Friday it has permanently shut a nuclear power station in Michigan despite a Biden administration plan to rescue plants like it because they generate electricity virtually free of carbon emissions.
Entergy closed the 800-Megawatt Palisades plant in Michigan that had operated for more than 50 years.
"After careful monitoring, operators made the conservative decision to shut down the plant early due to the performance of a control rod drive seal," Entergy said in a statement about the plant.
The plant had been to slated to shut on May 31, but efforts had been underway to save it.
White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy has said that existing nuclear power plants will be needed to meet the Biden administration's goals on slashing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Biden administration last month launched a $6 billion program to help save nuclear plants that are suffering rising security costs and stiff competition from other electricity generation sources including natural gas and renewable energy.
The first phase of the Civil Nuclear Credit program was meant to keep Palisades and California's Diablo Canyon plant, owned by PG&E Corp, from shutting. It is uncertain whether Diablo Canyon can be saved by the program.
The plan, which had funding generated by last year's bipartisan infrastructure bill, could help save other nuclear plants instead.
With the closure, the United States will now have 92 nuclear reactors, more than any other country, but nuclear power capacity peaked in 2012.
The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Backers of the Palisades plant, which employed 600 hundred workers, had hoped another utility would buy it to save it from closing.
"We've not gotten any proposals" to buy Palisades, Mark Sullivan, an Entergy spokesperson, told Reuters. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington, and Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Bernard Orr)