California Republicans debut bill to save Diablo Canyon

July 15, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) introduced legislation last week that would keep California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in operation beyond its expected 2025 closure date. Dubbed the Clean Energy Production Act (H.R. 4394), the bill was introduced July 9 and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Cosponsoring the measure is the remainder of the Golden State’s GOP contingent to the House: Reps. Ken Calvert, Mike Garcia, Darrell Issa, Young Kim, Doug LaMalfa, Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock, Jay Obernolte, Michelle Steel, and David G. Valadao.

A word from the sponsor: “Should California Democrats succeed in wiping out both fossil fuels and nuclear power, Californians will face a bleak energy future of even higher electricity prices and more unreliable energy production,” Nunes wrote in a blog post on his website. “That’s why today I introduced in Congress the Clean Energy Protection Act, a bill that will require California to issue Diablo Canyon the permits needed to keep nuclear power operating in the state, as well as direct the appropriate federal agencies to issue permits to allow the plant to develop an additional 8,000 megawatts of next-generation nuclear capacity. In short, the bill will stop California from shutting down a crucial source of reliable, clean baseload energy.”

Nunes elaborated on the plant’s predicament in a July 8 op-ed for the Washington Examiner.

Background: Located near Avila Beach, Calif., Diablo Canyon is the state’s sole operating nuclear power facility, housing two four-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. Unit 1, a 1,138-MWe PWR, began commercial operation in May 1985, while the 1,151-MWe Unit 2 started providing power to residents in March of the following year.

In June 2016, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced that it had reached an agreement with organized labor and environmental organizations to increase its investment in energy efficiency and storage, as well as renewables, and to close Diablo Canyon upon the expiration of the reactors’ operating licenses—November 2024 for Unit 1 and August 2025 for Unit 2.

PG&E’s application to close the plant was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in January 2018, and in March of that year the utility notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it was withdrawing its 2009 application for license extension.

In October 2020, Californians for Green Nuclear Power, a nuclear advocacy organization, filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, requesting a review of the regulatory approvals of PG&E’s decision on the plant. FERC dismissed the complaint this past March.

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