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.


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


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.”

Group calls on Michigan officials to save Palisades nuclear plant

February 28, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News
Palisades nuclear plant. (Photo: Entergy Nuclear)

In the spirit of the letter sent earlier this month to California Gov. Gavin Newsom urging the continued operation of Diablo Canyon beyond 2025, the Climate Coalition—a pronuclear group based in Menlo Park, Calif.—has drafted a similar letter to state officials in Michigan concerning the Palisades nuclear power plant.

The letter, which at this writing has over 260 signatories, implores Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and members of the Michigan legislature to take action to save Palisades. Owner and operator Entergy has slated the plant for permanent closure in May, nine years before the expiration of its operating license.

SLO county board supports life extension for Diablo Canyon

February 17, 2022, 12:04PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors earlier this week endorsed extending the life of Diablo Canyon—California’s last operating nuclear power facility—which owner and operator Pacific Gas and Electric Company has scheduled for permanent closure in 2025. The two-unit, 2,289-MWe plant is located in San Luis Obispo County, near Avila Beach.

Energy experts urge reversal of 2025 shutdown plan for Diablo Canyon

February 7, 2022, 9:30AMUpdated February 7, 2022, 10:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Seventy-nine scientific and business luminaries, including a number of the world’s leading experts on climate and energy, have signed a letter imploring California Gov. Gavin Newsom to postpone the premature retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, currently slated for closure in 2025.

The nuclear community rallies to save Diablo Canyon

January 13, 2022, 7:01AMANS News
Pro-nuclear groups rallied to keep Diablo Canyon open beyond 2025 in front of the San Luis-Obispo County Courthouse in California on December 4, 2021. (Photo: Save Clean Energy)

Over the past couple of months, the nuclear community has participated in a grassroots effort to save the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant from premature closure—and it appears to be having an effect. The growing support for keeping Diablo Canyon open is seen in editorials, an academic study from Stanford/MIT, and a grassroots rally held in December 2021 to show support for keeping Diablo Canyon operating.

Becoming agile and innovative in an evolving nuclear landscape: Changing the industry narrative for a strong future

November 29, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsGleb Tsipursky
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Photo: PG&E)

Last April, Entergy had to close its Indian Point nuclear plant. That’s despite the plant’s being recognized as one of the best-run U.S. nuclear plants. That’s also despite its 20-year license extension process having been nearly completed, with full support from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This closure was due in large part to opposition by antinuclear environmental groups. These groups also mobilized existing negative public opinion on nuclear energy to get politicians to oppose the plant’s license extension. Another factor is unfair market conditions. Nuclear energy doesn’t get due government support—unlike solar, wind, and hydro—despite delivering clean, zero-emissions energy.

The American Nuclear Society supports keeping Diablo Canyon open

November 24, 2021, 11:08AMPress Releases
A whale swims off the coast by Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. (Image: PG&E)

The American Nuclear Society supports the continued operation of California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The premature shutdown of Diablo Canyon units 1 and 2, slated respectively in November 2024 and August 2025, will inflict grave harm to California's economy and environment.

Diablo Canyon report takeaways: California has options, and it’s time for debate

November 10, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News

A new study by researchers from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production—makes a compelling case that the 2018 decision to shut down California’s only operating nuclear power plants needs another look—and that revenue options could make reversing the decision not just feasible but economically attractive.

“Fast-forward three years and things have changed,” said Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and one of the authors of the report, during a November 8 webinar. Since the decision was made to shut down Diablo Canyon’s twin pressurized water reactors in 2024 and 2025 when their current licenses expire, the state has passed bills calling for net zero carbon emissions by 2045 and for restrictions on land use that could effectively limit solar installation sprawl. Californian’s have also experienced repeated grid reliability issues and prolonged drought conditions.