California to delay retirement of Diablo Canyon NPP

6 September 2022

California’s legislators have approved a bill to extend the life of the state’s last operating nuclear plant by up to five years. The bill authorises a $1.4 billion government loan to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant running; and to enable the extension, it exempts some state agencies from certain environmental laws. The decision marks a reversal of California’s 2016 decision to retire the PG&E-owned plant by 2025.

Although the bill was opposed by some environmental groups. It comfortably won the support of the required two-thirds of Assembly members when it became apparent that thee was a need to shore up the state’s electric reliability and prevent rolling blackouts.

State governor Gavin Newsom has no direct authority over the operating licence for the Diablo Canyon PP and the vote opens up a way for Pacific Gas & Electric to begin to seek a longer run for the plant beyond its scheduled closing by 2025, but uncertainties remain.

For now the utility must obtain permission from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue making electricity beyond 2025, when its licence expires, and PG&E also will seek a share of $6 billion that the Biden administration has set aside to rescue nuclear plants at risk of closing.

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