While the Biden administration is likely happy to see California commit to extending the life of its last remaining nuclear power plant, it won’t let its operator – Pacific Gas and Electric – slide through the regulatory process without a mountain of paperwork.
The backstory: Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant was set for closure in 2025 as part of an agreement with environmental advocates and the State of California in the late-2000s.
- Despite its closure plans, Gov. Gavin Newsom spent much of 2022 pivoting his views in the hopes of extending the power plant’s life in the hopes of avoiding potential blackouts as the Golden State’s renewable energy sources lag in production.
- The reason for keeping a magnet of environmentalist opposition open? The sheer volume of energy produced in San Luis Obispo County. Diablo Canyon is responsible for roughly 9 percent of California’s electric generation.
- Newsom worked alongside the Legislature to void a 2016 deal with PG&E to shutter the plant along with extending a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to manage operations moving forward.
Where things stand: In October, PG&E sought to resume paperwork it initiated with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009 to extend the life of Diablo Canyon.
- NRC officials vehemently rejected the idea of resuming its review of Diablo’s 14-year-old licensure plan.
- PG&E responded to the rejection from nuclear regulators by announcing they would generate a new application to extend Diablo Canyon’s lifespan by 20 years and have it completed by the end of 2023.
What they’re saying: NRC staff’s rejection of the expedited review for Diablo’s license extension centered on its adherence to regulatory principles.
- “It would not be effective or efficient for the NRC staff to start the review” without updated information on the plant’s status and condition, the agency wrote in its decision.