To aid Diablo Canyon, feds propose changes to nuclear credit program

June 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has issued a proposed guidance amendment for its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program in response to a letter last month from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration suggesting “a few minor adjustments” to the program’s guidance to address “the unique circumstances” of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Previously a supporter of the premature 2025 closure of the Avila Beach, Calif., facility, Newsom told the Los Angeles Times in late April that his office would look into using the CNC Program to keep the plant in operation beyond its scheduled closure date, citing climate change and the threat of power shortages in the state.)

The DOE is seeking public comment on its proposed amendment, which accedes to one of the requested changes in Newsom’s letter: that the eligibility criteria in the guidance be revised to eliminate the requirement that an applicant for credits not recover more than 50 percent of a reactor’s cost from cost-of-service regulation or regulated contracts.

The department has declined, however, to grant Newsom’s two other requests: (1) that the guidance be clarified to specify that operating losses include costs not recovered through cost-of-service-ratemaking, and (2) that the guidance explicitly include grid reliability and support for state clean energy goals, as well as emissions reductions, as a reason for extending a reactor’s operation.

Quick, comment! Public input on the proposal is due next Monday, June 27, and should be sent to rfi-cnc@nuclear.energy.gov, with “Response to Proposed Guidance Amendment” included in the subject line. According to the DOE, comments will be made publicly available on the CNC Program website.

In case you missed it: Last Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) became the latest influential convert to the cause of maintaining Diablo Canyon’s clean energy generation. Feinstein wrote in the Sacramento Bee that “Pacific Gas and Electric Company should reconsider its decision to close Diablo Canyon by 2025. The utility should get the plant relicensed instead, retiring it once the state can replace its production with clean sources. . . . I remain concerned about the lack of long-term storage for spent nuclear fuel and am working to develop better solutions. But at this point, keeping Diablo Canyon open and producing carbon-free energy is more important.”


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