California Governor Floats Plan to Keep Last Nuke Plant Open

Aug 12, 2022 by Bloomberg

California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed extending the life of the state’s last nuclear plant in a bid to avoid blackouts during its transition away from fossil fuel power sources.

Under Newsom’s plan, the Diablo Canyon nuclear complex would be allowed to operate as long as 10 years beyond its scheduled retirement date of 2025, his office said Friday. Plant owner PG&E Corp. could also qualify for a $1.4 billion loan to help cover costs.

California leaders are racing to protect a state grid that’s faced power crunches in recent summers. The Golden State has closed natural gas-fired power plants in its push to fight climate change, but hasn’t added enough battery storage to balance the renewable power it now relies on. Losing Diablo Canyon -- the state’s biggest source of around-the-clock clean power -- could further deplete supplies.

Newsom had once supported shutting down Diablo Canyon’s two reactors, located near earthquake faults on coastal bluff between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But he reversed course this year, citing concerns over the grid’s reliability.

The governor’s proposed bill could smooth the path for extending Diablo Canyon’s life and would exempt the plant from some environmental requirements. PG&E has said the state would need to pass legislation if it wants to keep the plant open.

The plan would require federal, state and local regulatory approvals, according to Newsom’s office.

(Updates with California governor’s plan starting in the second paragraph)

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By Mark Chediak

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