Diablo Canyon, California’s lone, and soon-to-close, nuclear power plant, is quickly emerging as a political football in Washington with clamor growing to keep it open.
The San Luis Obispo County-based plant, operated by PG&E, is slated for closure in 2025 after its two permits expire. In recent months, it has experienced a renaissance of sorts as climate advocates rediscover the merits of nuclear power’s carbon-free energy production.
That renaissance picked up steam in early November, when a joint MIT-Stanford study endorsed keeping the plant open due to California’s sweeping climate goals to be carbon-free by 2045.
“Nuclear plants – and Diablo Canyon is no exception – are one such clean and firm (source of) power capacity that we think should be preserved,” Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT professor and one of the study’s authors, said of the plant.
Diablo Canyon’s current services to California, providing nine percent of all power generated in the state in a carbon-free manner, is certainly attractive to both sides of the aisle in Washington.
Last week, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm threw her backing behind the idea of keeping the plant open.
“California has been very bullish on zero-carbon emission energy,” Granholm said last week at an energy conference.
“It may be something that they decide to take a look at, given that I think there is a change underfoot about the opinion that people may have about nuclear. This is clean dispatchable base load power. I know the decision has been made already to close it down, perhaps it’s something that they might reconsider. Let’s just get through this consent-based siting process first and certainly I’m willing to have those conversations.”
Days after Granholm’s comments, Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) renewed a push for one of his key legislative priorities.
The Tulare representative introduced the Clean Energy Protection Act over the summer with a narrow, but clear purpose: keep the nuclear plant open.
In an email to constituents, Nunes doubled down on the need for his bill.
“As energy prices continue to skyrocket throughout the state, prominent Democrats are warning that California’s scheduled closure of Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear power plant, will have predictably disastrous effects on our electricity grid,” Nunes said in the note, pointing to Granholm’s comments.
“On this point, Secretary Granholm is correct,” he added. “California Democrats should heed Secretary Granholm’s advice, save Diablo Canyon, and work with Republicans to make California the leader in next-generation, clean nuclear power.”