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 9% of California’s energy.
Why it’s news
California’s nuclear plant could be a valuable resource as the state looks for other sources of energy.
In 2020, the state suffered from blackouts due to summer heatwaves. Now Califonians could be facing a similar situation.
The Golden State’s power grid has been under immense strain this week as triple-digit temperatures had Californian’s turning up the air conditioning. To avoid the blackouts, the California electricity grid operator asked residents to limit their power use during certain times of the day.
A 2018 California law pushed the state toward renewable energy like solar and wind power in an effort to decarbonize the power grid by 2045. Heat waves and droughts are getting in the way though, signaling to some Californians that another power source may be necessary.
What’s not being said
Though the bill passed with strong support, there are activists in opposition of nuclear power.
Opponents of the plant cite worries about the plant’s location near geological fault lines, how used fuel is stored, and operational costs.
“We could be investing those dollars into solar and storage, incentives for energy efficiency, demand response programs and offshore wind—much better solutions for the long term,” says Director of Environment California Laura Deehan.
Backing up a bit
California isn’t the only government reconsidering solar power—Germany and the U.K are expanding their nuclear power options.
Germany recently decided to keep its three remaining nuclear plants open in response to energy shortages before winter. The U.K., which is also facing energy shortages before winter, recently plans to invest in Electricite de France SA’s Sizewell C nuclear project, which would provide power to 6 million homes for the next 60 years.