NRC announces setback to Diablo Canyon license renewal

January 26, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced January 24 that it will not resume its review of Pacific Gas &Electric’s withdrawn Diablo Canyon license renewal application. This decision is a new setback in the long-running effort to extend the life of the plant.

California PUC opens vote on Diablo Canyon extension

January 20, 2023, 7:14AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted to open a rulemaking to consider extending the lifetime of the 2,289-MW two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The plant, which turns 50 this year, is the only remaining operational nuclear power facility in California. It generates nearly 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs.

Looking back at 2022—July through September

January 5, 2023, 12:12PMNuclear News

Another calendar year has passed. Before heading too far into 2023, let’s look back at what happened in 2022 for the American Nuclear Society and the nuclear community. In today's post that follows, we have compiled from Nuclear News and Nuclear Newswire what we feel are the top nuclear news stories from July through September 2022.

Stay tuned this week for the top stories from the rest of the past year.

But first:

Holtec to reapply for federal funding to revive Palisades

December 21, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant. (Photo: Entergy)

Holtec International is apparently not ready to give up on the Palisades nuclear power plant just yet. Despite having been denied federal funds last month for a possible reopening of the Covert, Mich., facility, the company this week announced its intention to reapply.

How excellence in plant operations will lead to a brighter nuclear future

December 8, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt

For years the U.S. nuclear industry has done an outstanding job keeping plant availability high while simultaneously continuing to improve safety and economics. With capacity factors averaging more than 90 percent, you would think that no one would shut down an operational nuclear power plant. But that is what we have seen in a number of cases. Fortunately, this now seems to be changing. As I write this column, Diablo Canyon’s new life extension application has just been submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review, and the Department of Energy’s program to support continued operation of nuclear power plants is providing hope that current plants will continue to have the opportunity to demonstrate their operational excellence.

How did we get here? When I ask this question—both of myself and the industry as a whole—I envision this as two sides of the same coin. Through the efforts of many we have improved our financial and economic viability, but challenges remain because the full value proposition of nuclear energy has not been realized.

Diablo Canyon approved for federal funding; Palisades denied

November 22, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant, in Michigan, before it was permanently closed. (Photo: Holtec)

Pacific Gas & Electric’s two-unit Diablo Canyon plant—California’s lone operating nuclear power facility—has been deemed eligible for the initial round of funding from the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, the Department of Energy announced yesterday.

The decision was welcomed by a nuclear community disappointed by last Friday’s news that the DOE had rejected Holtec International’s CNC application for the recently closed Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, despite support for the effort from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Freakonomics podcast focuses on nuclear energy and climate change

October 10, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

On a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast, host Stephen J. Dubner and his guests explored the topic of nuclear power. The episode, “Nuclear Power Isn’t Perfect. Is It Good Enough?” was teased on the podcast website with this thought: “Liberals endorse harm reduction when it comes to the opioid epidemic. Are they ready to take the same approach to climate change?”

The Future of Diablo Canyon

September 2, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The reports of the death of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant may be greatly exaggerated. While Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced as early as 2016 that it would be closing California’s last operating nuclear power plant at the end of its current operating license, there has been growing political pressure to keep the plant, and its 2,200 MWe of carbon-free energy, running.

California lawmakers see the light, vote to extend Diablo Canyon operation

September 1, 2022, 12:16PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Bowing at last to the unflagging efforts of nuclear advocates over the past few years—as well as to more recent pressure from a former nuclear opponent, Gov. Gavin Newsom—the California legislature late last night approved S.B. 846, a measure that provides the option of extending operations at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant for five years beyond its scheduled 2025 closure date.

Pacific Gas and Electric, Diablo Canyon’s owner and operator, had agreed in June 2016 to an early shuttering of the facility, following discussions with organized labor and environmental organizations. PG&E’s application to close the plant was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in January 2018.

The bill passed easily through both legislative chambers: 67–3 in the General Assembly and 31–1 in the Senate.

Twice-extended Civil Nuclear Credit deadline now one week away: Who will apply?

August 30, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The deadline for first-round applications to the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program is September 6. While the program’s goal has never shifted from providing support to nuclear power plants facing closure for economic reasons so that they can continue generating clean power, the deadline and the first-round eligibility criteria have changed. The program was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with a sizable, yet finite, fund of $6 billion. Those applying in the first round will get the first—and possibly the best—crack at a share of the funds.

American Nuclear Society urges California lawmakers to save Diablo Canyon by passing S.B. 846

August 29, 2022, 6:36PMPress Releases

LA GRANGE PARK, Illinois – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) sent a letter to California state legislators urging quick passage of bipartisan legislation (Senate Bill 846) to extend operations of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

California lawmakers to vote on Diablo Canyon life extension

August 29, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

A bill to extend operations at California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant beyond 2025 debuted last evening in the California legislature. Lawmakers have until Wednesday—the end of the current legislative session—to vote on the measure.

Coauthored by State Sen. Bill Dodd (D., Napa) and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R., San Luis Obispo), Senate Bill 846 includes a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the plant’s owner and operator, matching the amount in the August 12 proposal from Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Instead of Newsom’s proposed option for a 10-year life extension for the facility, however, SB 846 would keep the plant running for an additional five years only.

Newsom proposes $1.4 billion loan to keep Diablo Canyon running

August 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

There is still a chance for California’s last remaining nuclear power plant to stay open.

Last Friday, more than 50 nuclear advocates testified in support of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at a California Energy Commission workshop. Many spoke of the need for California to shore up its electricity grid in the face of coming heat waves and power outages. Others emphasized that closing the plant, which generates 2.2 GW of electricity and currently provides 8.6 percent of the state’s total supply and about 15 percent of its low-carbon electricity, would be devastating to California’s emission-reduction goals.

Diablo Canyon: What next?

July 8, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear NewsBy George Apostolakis, James Ellis, and Steven Nesbit
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The state of California recently and quite sensibly cracked the door back open for continued operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant past the current operating license expiration dates in 2024 (Unit 1) and 2025 (Unit 2). The nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s recently released 2022 Summer Reliability Assessment highlights the risk of electricity shortages in California. Given that concern, as well as the benefits of continued Diablo Canyon operation—including much needed clean, reliable energy; good jobs; and potential for large-scale production of fresh water—another look at the shutdown decision made several years ago is clearly warranted. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) reinforced this point when she added her voice to the growing chorus of policymakers advocating extended operation for Diablo Canyon.

New California law could fund Diablo Canyon life extension

July 6, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News

The decision by the Department of Energy to revise its Civil Nuclear Credit Program—easing the path toward program qualification for California’s Diablo Canyon—was not the only promising news last week for advocates of the state’s sole operating nuclear power facility. On June 30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that could provide funding for Diablo Canyon in the event the state decides to keep the plant in operation beyond its slated 2025 closure date. Also in line for possible life extension under the measure are some of Southern California’s fossil fuel plants.

DOE revises nuclear credit program guidance, extends application deadline

July 1, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy yesterday announced that it has amended its Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program guidance for the currently open award cycle and extended the deadline for credit applications from July 5 to September 6. The DOE was instructed to establish the $6 billion program by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Biden last November.

Energy bill moves to House floor with amendment on Diablo Canyon, HALEU

June 30, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The House Appropriations Committee has delivered to the full House the fiscal year 2023 Energy and Water Development bill in a 32–24 vote, along with a notable amendment concerning, among other things, Diablo Canyon, high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), and thorium molten salt reactors. The amendment received a thumbs-up at the committee’s June 28 markup session via voice vote.

The American Nuclear Society applauds California legislature for passing bill to support Diablo Canyon

June 30, 2022, 7:42AMPress Releases

Statement from American Nuclear Society President Steven Arndt and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy:

"The American Nuclear Society applauds the California State Legislature for passing legislation that, among other things, would support the option of continued operations of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. We thank Gov. Newsom for his support and reconsideration of the state’s decision to prematurely shutter California’s largest clean energy resource. We look forward to the signing ceremony.