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, Ilinois – 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.

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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.)

Feinstein joins Diablo defenders

June 16, 2022, 7:24AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Feinstein

Although previously a supporter of Diablo Canyon’s early closure, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein took to the pages of the Sacramento Bee yesterday to endorse life extension for the state’s sole operating nuclear power plant.

Citing projected electricity shortfalls in California due to the effects of climate change, Feinstein writes 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.”

The senator continues: “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.”

California climate goals easier to reach with Diablo Canyon, says study

June 14, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Extending the operational life of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant beyond 2025—its scheduled year of retirement—would help the state meet its climate goals more quickly, more reliably, and more cheaply than allowing the facility to close, a new study has found.

According to Retaining Diablo Canyon: Economic, Carbon, and Reliability Implications, keeping the plant on line could not only substantially reduce California’s emissions, natural gas use, and electric power costs, but also help avoid blackouts.

Newsom wants changes to credit program to delay Diablo Canyon closure

June 6, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

This past April, California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed interest in using the federal government’s new $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program to keep Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in operation beyond its scheduled 2025 closure date.

That interest would appear not to have waned, as Newsom’s cabinet secretary, Ana Matosantos, recently sent a three-page letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm requesting some alterations to the program’s language to ensure that Diablo Canyon would be eligible to participate.

The full letter, detailing the requested changes, is available here.

A passionate call to save Diablo Canyon

May 20, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a recent opinion piece for the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Heather Hoff describes her conversion from nuclear energy skeptic to advocate and lays out the case for keeping the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open beyond its planned closure in 2025.

Hoff, who is an operations procedure writer at Diablo Canyon, tells how she spent years "excessively and sometimes annoyingly" investigating her concerns about the safety of nuclear after she was first hired at Diablo Canyon. She adds that she almost quit her job after the Fukushima accident until realizing that many concerns about that event were triggered by "fear of nuclear, rather than nuclear itself.”

NRC critiques OIG report on Diablo Canyon feedwater system oversight

May 5, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission turned the tables a bit on its inspector general’s office this week, releasing its response to a March 25 OIG event inquiry that criticized an NRC inspection at California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, performed after a July 2020 auxiliary feedwater (AFW) system failure at Unit 2.

The response highlights a number of what the agency terms “factual errors” and takes issue with several portions of the OIG report.

Newsom mulls a Diablo Canyon rescue

May 2, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Los Angeles Times editorial board last week that his administration would look into using the federal government’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program to keep Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in operation beyond its scheduled 2025 closure date.

“The requirement is by May 19 to submit an application, or you miss the opportunity to draw down any federal funds if you want to extend the life of that plant,” Newsom told the board, according to an April 29 LA Times piece. “We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option.”