California · Energy

“Fantasy and fairy dust”: Newsom goes nuclear on Dem plan to shut Diablo Canyon

The late-inning push to keep California’s last-operating nuclear power plant, San Luis Obispo County-based Diablo Canyon, is serving as a wedge between Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative Democrats.

Newsom, who has set aggressive clean energy targets and has sought to wipe out domestic oil production in the Golden State on a short timeline, has recently embraced the wave of support to keep Diablo Canyon operational beyond its 2025 closure.

Last week, the Newsom administration began circulating legislative language to extend the plant’s lifespan while issuing the plant’s operator, PG&E, $1.4 billion in forgivable loans to keep the plant open.

That, paired with a Biden administration-led grant process to keep aging nuclear plants operational, is believed to serve as the basic roadmap to ensuring that the plant continues to produce roughly 10 percent of the state’s energy supply.

Friday, legislative language from the state Assembly appears to push back on Newsom’s recent shift to embracing nuclear power, a carbon-free power source often cast aside by environmental advocates.

Per the AP:

The legislative plan drops the idea of keeping the decades-old reactors running. Instead, it would funnel the $1.4 billion Newsom proposed for PG&E into speeding up other zero-carbon power and new transmission lines to get the electricity to customers.

The legislative plan included a series of related, but separate, proposals for investing over $1 billion to install install energy-efficient cooling and lighting for low-income Californians, at no cost to qualifying residents. It would also place $900 million in an “electric ratepayer relief fund” to provide bill credits to offset ratepayer costs. Another $900 million would got toward funding solar and storage systems for low-income households, among other programs.

[Newsom spokesman Anthony] York said the proposal came out of the state Assembly and “feels like fantasy and fairy dust, and reflects a lack of vision and a lack of understanding about the scope of the climate problem.”

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.