California legislators are considering the governor’s plan that could keep the state’s nuclear plant open.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a plan that could prolong the life of the state’s last nuclear power plant.
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant was set to be shut down by 2025. In response to California’s energy concerns, some officials have been considering keeping it operational beyond the scheduled closing.
Newsom’s proposal would give PG&E, the company that runs the plant, a $1.4-billion government loan to keep the plant online. This would keep the plant running for another decade.
California legislators have only a few weeks to decide before the session ends.
If approved, the proposal would eliminate some of the regulatory red tape in the way of reopening the plant, including expediting the relicensing process that would be necessary.
The plant would also be exempt from some environmental regulatory laws, such as the water usage limitations.
PG&E is also applying for $6 billion in federal funds from a Department of Energy program designed to help nuclear plants stay online, Reuters reports.
Why it’s important
In 2020, California suffered from blackouts during summer heat waves due to an overtaxed power grid. It seems California officials may be trying to avoid similar situations by extending the life of the power plant.
California’s move to renewable energy appears to have left the state short on energy during surging heat. Nuclear energy may be a solution to the energy shortage.
The Diablo Canyon plant produces 9% of California’s energy. However keeping the plant online isn’t as easy as it sounds. The extension would require renewal of permits, ordering more reactor fuel, and ordering more storage caskets for fuel waste.
The Biden administration is encouraging revitalization of American nuclear power plants. In April, the administration announced a $6-billion plan to help keep nuclear power plants online.
In Germany, officials have made plans to keep their nuclear power plants online as the country faces potentially disastrous energy shortages this winter.
What’s not being said
Not everyone was enthralled with the governor’s plan.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth said in a statement that, “Legislators should reject [the bill] out of hand. . . 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 governor’s plan does have support in the legislature. California Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham voiced support for the measures, saying that California’s renewable energy options aren’t ready to supply all of California’s energy needs.