California energy officials have voted to extend the operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant until 2030, adding five more years to its lifespan.
The decision by the California Public Utilities Commission overturns an earlier agreement to close the plant in 2025.
Driving the news: The extension is expected to preserve a significant portion of the state’s zero-emission power supply, but it raises concerns about the high costs and potential safety issues associated with operating an aging nuclear power plant.
- The costs associated with the extension are estimated to exceed $6 billion, and a federal safety review will be conducted.
- State energy commissioners view the extension as a transitional strategy to support California’s transition to renewable energy and ensure grid reliability, especially during heat waves.
- Supporters argue that Diablo Canyon’s power supply is critical to meeting the state’s climate goals and preventing power outages, as the plant provides about 9% of the state’s electricity and 17% of its zero-emission power.
- Critics warn that the extension could lead to more rate hikes from PG&E and highlight concerns about the plant’s proximity to fault lines and the potential for earthquakes, which could pose a significant risk.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to evaluate safety conditions at Diablo Canyon after the plant’s operator submits a new license renewal application.