The Biden administration has announced $1.1 billion in federal funding to support the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in California.
- A grant will be given to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to stop the closure of California’s last nuclear power plant.
- The nuclear plant would have been decommissioned in the next one to two years, but California legislators recently voted to retain the power source.
- PG&E initially applied for the grant when the Department of Energy announced a $6-billion program to help nuclear power plants stay open.
Why it’s news
The announcement of federal funding for the plant is an important step in the plans to keep the plant open. Though California lawmakers agreed to retain the plant for another five years, the plant is in need of repairs and updates.
The grant funding will help PG&E recoup its expected losses that it will incur while keeping the plant open.
As California’s single largest power provider, the plant will play an important role in providing electricity for the state. Currently, it provides 8.6% of the state’s electricity needs.
Retaining the plant helped the Golden State avoid rolling blackouts during heat waves in the 2022 summer.
The decision to keep the plant operation was not universally approved. Some critics pointed out that the plant is vulnerable to earthquakes and contains no permanent waste disposal options.
As a carbon-free energy option, the Biden administration has been friendly to nuclear power options.
“Nuclear energy will help us meet President Biden’s climate goals, and with these historic investments in clean energy, we can protect these facilities and the communities they serve,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
Backing up a bit
In a last-minute vote, the California legislature approved Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to keep nuclear power in the state.
The bill that includes a $1.4-billion loan to postpone the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s closing passed Thursday as California’s legislative session ended.
Through the new bill, Governor Newsom’s plan clears some of the bureaucratic hurdles that would make reopening the plant more difficult.
Californians have been debating keeping the plant open in an effort to stave off an energy shortage in the midst of heat waves across the state. The Diablo Canyon plant produces nearly 9% of California’s energy.