California · Energy

Newsom pitches $1.4bil loan to keep Diablo Canyon running through 2035

With momentum in Sacramento building for an effort to save California’s lone nuclear power plant – a facility responsible for roughly 10 percent of the state’s electricity production – from closure in three years, Gov. Gavin Newsom is primed to propose a solution, per reports Friday.

The Newsom administration began circulating draft legislation late Thursday calling for a 10-year extension of life on the PG&E-operated power plant along the Pacific Coast in San Luis Obispo County.

Holding off the planned closure of the plant would run $1.4 billion.

Currently, PG&E has applied for the U.S. Department of Energy’s $6 billion program to preserve nuclear power plants. How much the company will receive is to-be-seen.

Newsom’s proposal calls for a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to the investor-owned utility to cover relicensing costs to keep the plant operational.

For its part, PG&E seems prepared to keep the plant open beyond 2025 should a plan materialize.

“We are proud of the role that [Diablo Canyon] plays in our state, and we stand ready to support should there be a change in state policy, to help ensure grid reliability for our customers and all Californians at the lowest possible cost,” the utility said in a statement.

Environmental allies of Newsom were outraged by the proposal, issuing a joint statement – comprised of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California, and Friends of the Earth.

“The findings used to justify these extraordinary provisions include no citations to published studies by any California regulator or agency recommending a further life extension for Diablo Canyon because there are none,” the statement said. “With Governor Newsom and the legislature working to appropriate climate budget funds and advance ambitious climate legislation in the waning days of the legislative session, this proposal is a dangerous and costly distraction.”

The push to save the power plant picked up steam last year, amid a report from Stanford and MIT finding that the plant’s continued operation would save Californians billions, up to $21 billion, in electricity costs.

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